It will be accompanied by an independent assessment of the fiscal and economic impact of the policies by the Office for Budget Responsibility, a government watchdog.

While markets have cheered the government’s promise to have its policies independently reviewed, questions remain about how the gap in the public finances can be closed. Economists say there is very little room in stretched department budgets to make cuts. That has led to concerns of a return to austerity measures, reminiscent of the spending cuts after the 2008 financial crisis.

There is a danger,” Mr. Chadha said, “that we end up with tighter fiscal policy than actually is appropriate given the shock that many households are suffering.” This could make it harder to support people suffering amid rising food and energy prices. But Mr. Chadha argues that it’s clear what needs to happen next: a complete elimination of unfunded tax cuts and careful planning on how to support vulnerable households.

The chancellor could also end up having a lot more autonomy over fiscal policy than the prime minister, he added.

“The best outcome for markets would be a rapid rallying of the parliamentary Conservative Party around a single candidate” who would validate Mr. Hunt’s approach and the timing of the Oct. 31 report, Trevor Greetham, a portfolio manager at Royal London Asset Management, said in a written comment.

Three days after the fiscal statement, on Nov. 3, Bank of England policymakers will announce their next interest rate decisions.

Bond investors are trying to parse how the central bank will react to the rapidly changing fiscal news. On Thursday, before Ms. Truss’s resignation, Ben Broadbent, a member of the central bank’s rate-setting committee, indicated that policymakers might not need to raise interest rates as much as markets currently expect. Traders are betting that the bank will raise rates above 5 percent next year, from 2.25 percent.

The bank could raise rates less than expected next year partly because the economy is forecast to shrink over the year. The International Monetary Fund predicted that the British economy would go from 3.6 percent growth this year to a 0.3 percent contraction next year.

That’s a mild recession compared with some other forecasts, but it would only compound the longstanding economic problems that Britain faced, including weak investment, low productivity growth and businesses’ inability to find employees with the right skills. These were among the challenges that Ms. Truss said she would resolve by shaking up the status quo and targeting economic growth of 2.5 percent a year.

Most economists didn’t believe that “Trussonomics,” as her policies were called, would deliver this economic growth. Instead, they predicted the policies would prolong the country’s inflation problem.

Despite the change in leadership, analysts don’t expect a big rally in Britain’s financial markets. The nation’s international standing could take a long time to recover.

“It takes years to build a reputation and one day to undo it,” Mr. Bouvet said, adding, “Investors will come progressively back to the U.K.,” but it won’t be quickly.

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How a Quebec Lithium Mine May Help Make Electric Cars Affordable

About 350 miles northwest of Montreal, amid a vast pine forest, is a deep mining pit with walls of mottled rock. The pit has changed hands repeatedly and been mired in bankruptcy, but now it could help determine the future of electric vehicles.

The mine contains lithium, an indispensable ingredient in electric car batteries that is in short supply. If it opens on schedule early next year, it will be the second North American source of that metal, offering hope that badly needed raw materials can be extracted and refined close to Canadian, U.S. and Mexican auto factories, in line with Biden administration policies that aim to break China’s dominance of the battery supply chain.

Having more mines will also help contain the price of lithium, which has soared fivefold since mid-2021, pushing the cost of electric vehicles so high that they are out of reach for many drivers. The average new electric car in the United States costs about $66,000, just a few thousand dollars short of the median household income last year.

lithium mines are in various stages of development in Canada and the United States. Canada has made it a mission to become a major source of raw materials and components for electric vehicles. But most of these projects are years away from production. Even if they are able to raise the billions of dollars needed to get going, there is no guarantee they will yield enough lithium to meet the continent’s needs.

eliminate this cap and extend the tax credit until 2032; used cars will also qualify for a credit of up to $4,000.

For many people in government and the auto industry, the main concern is whether there will be enough lithium to meet soaring demand for electric vehicles.

The Inflation Reduction Act, which President Biden signed in August, has raised the stakes for the auto industry. To qualify for several incentives and subsidies in the law, which go to car buyers and automakers and are worth a total of $10,000 or more per electric vehicle, battery makers must use raw materials from North America or a country with which the United States has a trade agreement.

rising fast.

California and other states move to ban internal combustion engines. “It’s going to take everything we can do and our competitors can do over the next five years to keep up,” Mr. Norris said.

One of the first things that Sayona had to do when it took over the La Corne mine was pump out water that had filled the pit, exposing terraced walls of dark and pale stone from previous excavations. Lighter rock contains lithium.

After being blasted loose and crushed, the rock is processed in several stages to remove waste material. A short drive from the mine, inside a large building with walls of corrugated blue metal, a laser scanner uses jets of compressed air to separate light-colored lithium ore. The ore is then refined in vats filled with detergent and water, where the lithium floats to the surface and is skimmed away.

The end product looks like fine white sand but it is still only about 6 percent lithium. The rest includes aluminum, silicon and other substances. The material is sent to refineries, most of them in China, to be further purified.

Yves Desrosiers, an engineer and a senior adviser at Sayona, began working at the La Corne mine in 2012. During a tour, he expressed satisfaction at what he said were improvements made by Sayona and Piedmont. Those include better control of dust, and a plan to restore the site once the lithium runs out in a few decades.

“The productivity will be a lot better because we are correcting everything,” Mr. Desrosiers said. In a few years, the company plans to upgrade the facility to produce lithium carbonate, which contains a much higher concentration of lithium than the raw metal extracted from the ground.

The operation will get its electricity from Quebec’s abundant hydropower plants, and will use only recycled water in the separation process, Mr. Desrosiers said. Still, environmental activists are watching the project warily.

Mining is a pillar of the Quebec economy, and the area around La Corne is populated with people whose livelihoods depend on extraction of iron, nickel, copper, zinc and other metals. There is an active gold mine near the largest city in the area, Val-d’Or, or Valley of Gold.

Mining “is our life,” said Sébastien D’Astous, a metallurgist turned politician who is the mayor of Amos, a small city north of La Corne. “Everybody knows, or has in the near family, people who work in mining or for contractors.”

Most people support the lithium mine, but a significant minority oppose it, Mr. D’Astous said. Opponents fear that another lithium mine being developed by Sayona in nearby La Motte, Quebec, could contaminate an underground river.

Rodrigue Turgeon, a local lawyer and program co-leader for MiningWatch Canada, a watchdog group, has pushed to make sure the Sayona mines undergo rigorous environmental reviews. Long Point First Nation, an Indigenous group that says the mines are on its ancestral territory, wants to conduct its own environmental impact study.

Sébastien Lemire, who represents the region around La Corne in the Canadian Parliament, said he wanted to make sure that the wealth created by lithium mining flowed to the people of Quebec rather than to outside investors.

Mr. Lemire praised activists for being “vigilant” about environmental standards, but he favors the mine and drives an electric car, a Chevrolet Bolt.

“If we don’t do it,” he said at a cafe in La Corne, “we’re missing the opportunity of the electrification of transport.”

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Fewer People Are Continuing Their Education After High School

The amount of students in college classrooms is dropping, which could have long-term impacts for society as a whole.

Colleges are seeing more empty seats in the classroom now that school is back in session. 

There are 4 million fewer college students than there were a decade ago. Among students who graduated high school in 2016, 70% began college that fall. In 2020, that number dropped to 63%.

There are a few possible explanations for this: Some people point to the pandemic as the main factor, as many students may have pushed college off until later to avoid learning from home in their high school bedrooms. While this could be part of it, the decline of students started long before COVID was even a thought.

Other factors should be considered, though, like cost. A Georgetown report found that between 1980 and 2020, the price of tuition, fees, and room and board for undergrad students rose by 169%, while wages for young Americans haven’t increased at the same rate. Many people may simply not have the money or aren’t willing to go into debt. Student loan debt is close to $30,000 on average for four-year college graduates.

But higher education experts say it’s important to consider the long-term tradeoffs. Data from the Social Security Administration says that people with bachelor’s degrees earn between $600,000 and $900,000 more over the course of their lifetime than someone with just a high school diploma. Data is scarce on how that advantage compares to previous generations of college graduates.

Tolani Britton, a professor who studies the economics of higher education, says it’s a complex matter.

“I don’t think that it’s simply like, get those loans, you are going to be fine long term — I don’t think that’s quite the case,” Britton said. “At the same time, I also think, well, what are the other options? And, are those other options both in the short term and long term as beneficial?”

Let’s take a look at those other options: One alternative is students going to a community college for two years, then transferring to a four-year school to offset costs. However, only 8% of community college students who want a bachelor’s degree go on to achieve it. They face common roadblocks, like finding out most of their credits won’t transfer, and they’ll have to start from scratch at a four-year school to get a degree.

Another option is trade school. Programs in trades like construction, HVAC and mechanics have seen an increase in enrollment as high as 40%. The highest-paying trade jobs can make up to nearly six figures. Plus, there are apprenticeships where companies pay students to learn how to do a trade.

If a student doesn’t want to go to community college or trade school, they can also go straight into the workforce after high school. Minimum wage jobs that don’t require any degree or training have seen an increase in pay. About half of states raised their minimum wage this year, and a lot of companies decided to raise it on their own in recent years. But as those wages have risen, so has the cost of everything else due to inflation.

Experts wonder if the short-term gain from going straight into the workforce is worth it over pursing postsecondary education.  

“Some of the questions that I would ask are, ‘Are the jobs that they’re taking currently, do they have advancement potential?'” Britton said. “If we think about those same jobs in 10 years and they’re paying relatively similar salaries, would they be able to support themselves and a family? What does it mean for their potential children, for example, if they don’t necessarily return and get a college degree?”

There are also long-term benefits to getting a degree that experts say are important to consider, like better health outcomes, both mental and physical, and the lower likelihood of being unemployed.

Jason Lane, a dean at Miami University in Ohio, told Newsy that as fewer students go to college, this could have long-term impacts for our society as a whole. 

“The loss of individuals going into college will have long-term implications on the country’s innovation ecosystem, on our economic productivity,” Lane said. “It will make it harder for us as a country to compete internationally in terms of new knowledge development, new innovations, new inventions, things that the U.S. has historically led on.”

So, what can be done to get more students back to school? Education professionals say high schools and colleges can work together to close the information gap and make sure students and their families have all of the information they need to make informed decisions about postsecondary education.

There’s not only a gap in general information about college, but gaps in information about financial aid and how to get it. A study by ACT found that most students don’t understand the financial aid process.

“We also need to think about, it’s not just the traditional high school population,” Lane said. “We’ve got to be reaching out to adult populations, folks who are looking to retool, to reskill, who are looking to increase, I think, their own social mobility and economic viability and the economy. To do that, we’ve actually got to be more accessible. We’ve got to find new pathways and entry points for them to come into higher education.”

Source: newsy.com

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So You Wanted to Get Work Done at the Office?

As managers try to draw people back to the office, they’re wrestling with how to rebuild a sense of community without taking away the focus that often came with remote work. Meanwhile, some workers are getting nostalgic for the silence they had at home, especially because many of the office changes aimed at bringing people back often make it harder to concentrate. (One company, for example, added a rock climbing wall.)

Research tends to back up the squishy sense that people get more done outside the office. A study from Stanford of a 16,000-person travel agency found that call center employees working remotely were 13 percent more productive than their in-person colleagues. Another study of 1,600 professionals found that they wrote 8 percent more code working a hybrid schedule compared with being fully in the office.

“We freed people of group think, we freed them of some exclusion and disrespect, we freed them of micromanaging, deafening and distracting noise,” said Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. “We have literally a mountain of evidence that if you let individuals generate ideas alone, you not only get more ideas, you get better ideas.”

But many executives feel strongly about the benefits of the office: the opportunities to find mentors, build relationships and brainstorm. Some workers also struggle to be productive at home, especially those with care-taking responsibilities. So companies are going to extremes to bring quiet into the office.

Azeema Batchelor, who works at the law firm Wiley Rein in Washington, D.C., has become reliant on her office’s red light, green light system. A rod the width of a sharpie sticks out of her monitor with a dome on it. When she needs to focus, she turns the dome red. When on a call, she switches it to yellow. When she is open to people strolling through her office to chat, a green light beckons them in.

Ms. Batchelor’s office introduced the colored lighting system earlier this year, as employees started coming in two or three days a week. The aim is to help them find that balance between productivity and the actually desired stop-and-chat. Just the other day, for example, Ms. Batchelor’s boss came by her office to discuss a training they were planning. The green light was on.

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The Supply Chain Broke. Robots Are Supposed to Help Fix It.

The people running companies that deliver all manner of products gathered in Philadelphia last week to sift through the lessons of the mayhem besieging the global supply chain. At the center of many proposed solutions: robots and other forms of automation.

On the showroom floor, robot manufacturers demonstrated their latest models, offering them as efficiency-enhancing augments to warehouse workers. Driverless trucks and drones commanded display space, advertising an unfolding era in which machinery will occupy a central place in bringing products to our homes.

The companies depicted their technology as a way to save money on workers and optimize scheduling, while breaking down resistance to a future centered on evolving forms of automation.

persistent economic shocks have intensified traditional conflicts between employers and employees around the globe. Higher prices for energy, food and other goods — in part the result of enduring supply chain tangles — have prompted workers to demand higher wages, along with the right to continue working from home. Employers cite elevated costs for parts, raw materials and transportation in holding the line on pay, yielding a wave of strikes in countries like Britain.

The stakes are especially high for companies engaged in transporting goods. Their executives contend that the Great Supply Chain Disruption is largely the result of labor shortages. Ports are overwhelmed and retail shelves are short of goods because the supply chain has run out of people willing to drive trucks and move goods through warehouses, the argument goes.

Some labor experts challenge such claims, while reframing worker shortages as an unwillingness by employers to pay enough to attract the needed numbers of people.

“This shortage narrative is industry-lobbying rhetoric,” said Steve Viscelli, an economic sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania and author of “The Big Rig: Trucking and the Decline of the American Dream.” “There is no shortage of truck drivers. These are just really bad jobs.”

A day spent wandering the Home Delivery World trade show inside the Pennsylvania Convention Center revealed how supply chain companies are pursuing automation and flexible staffing as antidotes to rising wages. They are eager to embrace robots as an alternative to human workers. Robots never get sick, not even in a pandemic. They never stay home to attend to their children.

A large truck painted purple and white occupied a prime position on the showroom floor. It was a driverless delivery vehicle produced by Gatik, a Silicon Valley company that is running 30 of them between distribution centers and Walmart stores in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas.

Here was the fix to the difficulties of trucking firms in attracting and retaining drivers, said Richard Steiner, Gatik’s head of policy and communications.

“It’s not quite as appealing a profession as it once was,” he said. “We’re able to offer a solution to that trouble.”

Nearby, an Israeli start-up company, SafeMode, touted a means to limit the notoriously high turnover plaguing the trucking industry. The company has developed an app that monitors the actions of drivers — their speed, the abruptness of their braking, their fuel efficiency — while rewarding those who perform better than their peers.

The company’s founder and chief executive, Ido Levy, displayed data captured the previous day from a driver in Houston. The driver’s steady hand at the wheel had earned him an extra $8 — a cash bonus on top of the $250 he typically earns in a day.

“We really convey a success feeling every day,” Mr. Levy, 31, said. “That really encourages retention. We’re trying to make them feel that they are part of something.”

Mr. Levy conceived of the company with a professor at the M.I.T. Media Lab who tapped research on behavioral psychology and gamification (using elements of game playing to encourage participation).

So far, the SafeMode system has yielded savings of 4 percent on fuel while increasing retention by one-quarter, Mr. Levy said.

Another company, V-Track, based in Charlotte, N.C., employs a technology that is similar to SafeMode’s, also in an effort to dissuade truck drivers from switching jobs. The company places cameras in truck cabs to monitor drivers, alerting them when they are looking at their phones, driving too fast or not wearing their seatbelt.

Jim Becker, the company’s product manager, said many drivers hade come to value the cameras as a means of protecting themselves against unwarranted accusations of malfeasance.

But what is the impact on retention if drivers chafe at being surveilled?

“Frustrations about increased surveillance, especially around in-cab cameras,” are a significant source of driver lament, said Max Farrell, co-founder and chief executive of WorkHound, which gathers real-time feedback.

Several companies on the show floor catered to trucking companies facing difficulties in hiring people to staff their dispatch centers. Their solution was moving such functions to countries where wages are lower.

Lean Solutions, based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., sets up call centers in Colombia and Guatemala — a response to “the labor challenge in the U.S.,” said Hunter Bell, a company sales agent.

A Kentucky start-up, NS Talent Solutions, establishes dispatch operations in Mexico, at a saving of up to 40 percent compared with the United States.

“The pandemic has helped,” said Michael Bartlett, director of sales. “The world is now comfortable with remote staffing.”

Scores of businesses promoted services that recruit and vet part-time and temporary workers, offering a way for companies to ramp up as needed without having to commit to full-time employees.

Pruuvn, a start-up in Atlanta, sells a service that allows companies to eliminate employees who recruit and conduct background checks.

“It allows you to get rid of or replace multiple individuals,” the company’s chief executive, Bryan Hobbs, said during a presentation.

Another staffing firm, Veryable of Dallas, offered a platform to pair workers such as retirees and students seeking part-time, temporary stints with supply chain companies.

Jonathan Katz, the company’s regional partnerships manager for the Southeast, described temporary staffing as the way for smaller warehouses and distribution operations that lack the money to install robots to enhance their ability to adjust to swings in demand.

A drone company, Zipline, showed video of its equipment taking off behind a Walmart in Pea Ridge, Ark., dropping items like mayonnaise and even a birthday cake into the backyards of customers’ homes. Another company, DroneUp, trumpeted plans to set up similar services at 30 Walmart stores in Arkansas, Texas and Florida by the end of the year.

But the largest companies are the most focused on deploying robots.

Locus, the manufacturer, has already outfitted 200 warehouses globally with its robots, recently expanding into Europe and Australia.

Locus says its machines are meant not to replace workers but to complement them — a way to squeeze more productivity out of the same warehouse by relieving the humans of the need to push the carts.

But the company also presents its robots as the solution to worker shortages. Unlike workers, robots can be easily scaled up and cut back, eliminating the need to hire and train temporary employees, Melissa Valentine, director of retail global accounts at Locus, said during a panel discussion.

Locus even rents out its robots, allowing customers to add them and eliminate them as needed. Locus handles the maintenance.

Robots can “solve labor issues,” said Nathan Ray, director of distribution center operations at Albertsons, the grocery chain, who previously held executive roles at Amazon and Target. “You can find a solution that’s right for your budget. There’s just so many options out there.”

As Mr. Ray acknowledged, a key impediment to the more rapid deployment of automation is fear among workers that robots are a threat to their jobs. Once they realize that the robots are there not to replace them but merely to relieve them of physically taxing jobs like pushing carts, “it gets really fun,” Mr. Ray said. “They realize it’s kind of cool.”

Workers even give robots cute nicknames, he added.

But another panelist, Bruce Dzinski, director of transportation at Party City, a chain of party supply stores, presented robots as an alternative to higher pay.

“You couldn’t get labor, so you raised your wages to try to get people,” he said. “And then everybody else raised wages.”

Robots never demand a raise.

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How Robots Are Impacting U.S. Economy

Experts are pleased with how quickly robots are being added to the workplace. A mechanized future is well on its way.

North American companies are onboarding robot workers at a faster-than-ever pace. 

According to the Association for Advancing Automation, companies ordered a record-setting 12,305 machines in the second quarter of 2022. That’s 25% more than the same period a year ago.  

“The pandemic definitely highlighted some areas and shortages in resources needed to be automated, and customers had to automate just due to the fact that people weren’t coming back to the workplace,” FANUC North America Vice President Louis Finazzo said. 

“For a long time, the automotive industry accounted for 60 to 70% of robot orders,” Association for Advancing Automation President Jeff Burnstein said. “And we knew that when other industries started adopting is when we would really see growth, which is finally happening now, in part due to the pandemic forcing companies to look at other options when they couldn’t bring people into work.”

Burnstein and Finazzo told Newsy that the industries helping fuel this increased demand for robotics ranged widely from food processing to pharmaceuticals. 

E-commerce companies have been particularly interested in buying up these robots, as robots can help grab packages and get them ready for delivery. 

However, if these robots are meant to close productivity gaps, the results aren’t apparent. During the second quarter of 2022, U.S. productivity fell at its highest rate since the government began collecting that data.  

Robots can help do the tasks businesses need done, but it will take time to get those machines up and running. And they’ll need a human workforce with specialized training. 

“The lack of people who are available to install and maintain, operate, program and take advantage of all the data  — this is a barrier, actually, to further adoption of robotics,” Burnstein said. “We have to put more emphasis on teaching people the skills they need because we all have to benefit in an increasingly automated future.”

Experts are pleased with how quickly robots are being added to the workplace. A mechanized future is well on its way. 

“The adoption curve used to be 50 weeks, now it’s been cut into the 21 week range,” Finazzo said. “So, you will see gains happening quicker because the customers and the manufacturers are picking applications that can get immediate impact.”

Source: newsy.com

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Mary Peltola Beats Sarah Palin, Wins Alaska House Special Election

By Associated Press
August 31, 2022

Democrat Mary Peltola beat Republican Sarah Palin in the special election for Alaska’s only U.S. House seat.

Democrat Mary Peltola won the special election for Alaska’s only U.S. House seat on Wednesday, besting a field that included Republican Sarah Palin, who was seeking a political comeback in the state where she was once governor.

Peltola, who is Yup’ik and turned 49 on Wednesday, will become the first Alaska Native to serve in the House and the first woman to hold the seat. She will serve the remaining months of the late Republican U.S. Rep. Don Young’s term. Young held the seat for 49 years before his death in March.

Peltola’s victory, coming in Alaska’s first statewide ranked choice voting election, is a boon for Democrats, particularly coming off better-than-expected performances in special elections around the country this year following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. She will be the first Democrat to hold the seat since the late U.S. Rep. Nick Begich, who was seeking reelection in 1972 when his plane disappeared. Begich was later declared dead, and Young in was elected to the seat in 1973.

Peltola ran as a coalition builder while her two Republican opponents — Palin and Begich’s grandson, also named Nick Begich — at times went after each other. Palin also railed against the ranked voting system, which was instituted by Alaska voters.

The results came 15 days after the Aug. 16 election, in line with the deadline for state elections officials to receive absentee ballots mailed from outside the U.S. Ranked choice tabulations took place Wednesday after no candidate won more than 50% of the first choice votes. Peltola was in the lead heading into the tabulation rounds.

Wednesday’s results were a disappointment for Palin, who was looking to make a political comeback 14 years after she was vaulted onto the national stage when John McCain selected her to be his running mate in the 2008 presidential election. In her run for the House seat, she had widespread name recognition and won the endorsement of former President Donald Trump.

But critics questioned her commitment to Alaska, citing her decision to resign as governor in July 2009, partway through her term. Palin went on to become a conservative commentator on TV and appeared in reality television programs, among other pursuits.

Palin’s defeat in the special election doesn’t necessarily mean she has lost her shot for the U.S. House seat. Along with Peltola and Begich, she is among the candidates vying for a full two-year term that will be decided in the November general election.

Palin has insisted her commitment to Alaska never wavered and said ahead of the special election that she had “signed up for the long haul.”

Peltola, a former state lawmaker who most recently worked for a commission whose goal is to rebuild salmon resources on the Kuskokwim River, cast herself as a “regular” Alaskan. “I’m not a millionaire. I’m not an international celebrity,” she said.

Peltola has said she was hopeful that the new system would allow more moderate candidates to be elected.

“I’m really hopeful that voters will feel like they can vote their heart and not feel pressured to vote for the candidate that they think is most ‘viable,'” Peltola said before the special election. “And my hope is that we shy away from the really extreme-type candidates and politicians.”

During the campaign, she emphasized her support of abortion rights and said she wanted to elevate issues of ocean productivity and food security. Peltola said she got a boost after the June special primary when she won endorsements from Democrats and independents who had been in the race. She said she believed her positive messaging also resonated with voters.

“It’s been very attractive to a lot of people to have a message of working together and positivity and holding each other up and unity and as Americans none of us are each other’s enemy,” she said. “That is just a message that people really need to hear right now.”

Alaska voters in 2020 approved an elections process that replaced party primaries with open primaries. Under the new system, ranked voting is used in general elections.

Under ranked voting, ballots are counted in rounds. A candidate can win outright with more than 50% of the vote in the first round. If no one hits that threshold, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. Voters who chose that candidate as their top pick have their votes count for their next choice. Rounds continue until two candidates remain, and whoever has the most votes wins.

In Alaska, voters last backed a Democrat for president in 1964. But the state also has a history of rewarding candidates with an independent streak. The state has more registered unaffiliated voters than registered Republicans or Democrats combined.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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President Biden Signs Massive Climate And Health Care Legislation

President Joe Biden signed Democrats’ landmark climate change and health care bill into law on Tuesday.

President Joe Biden signed Democrats’ landmark climate change and health care bill into law on Tuesday, delivering what he has called the “final piece” of his pared-down domestic agenda, as he aims to boost his party’s standing with voters less than three months before the midterm elections.

The legislation includes the most substantial federal investment in history to fight climate change — some $375 billion over the decade — and would cap prescription drug costs at $2,000 out-of-pocket annually for Medicare recipients. It also would help an estimated 13 million Americans pay for health care insurance by extending subsidies provided during the coronavirus pandemic.

The measure is paid for by new taxes on large companies and stepped-up IRS enforcement of wealthy individuals and entities, with additional funds going to reduce the federal deficit.

In a triumphant signing event at the White House, President Biden pointed to the law as proof that democracy — no matter how long or messy the process — can still deliver for voters in America as he road-tested a line he will likely repeat later this fall ahead of the midterms: “The American people won, and the special interests lost.”

“In this historic moment, Democrats sided with the American people, and every single Republican in the Congress sided with the special interests in this vote,” President Biden said, repeatedly seizing on the contrast between his party and the GOP. “Every single one.”

The House on Friday approved the measure on a party-line 220-207 vote. It passed the Senate days earlier with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking a 50-50 tie in that chamber.

“In normal times, getting these bills done would be a huge achievement,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said during the White House ceremony. “But to do it now, with only 50 Democratic votes in the Senate, over an intransigent Republican minority, is nothing short of amazing.”

President Biden signed the bill into law during a small ceremony in the State Dining Room of the White House, sandwiched between his return from a six-day beachside vacation in South Carolina and his departure for his home in Wilmington, Delaware. He plans to hold a larger “celebration” for the legislation on Sept. 6 once lawmakers return to Washington.

The signing caps a spurt of legislative productivity for President Biden and Congress, who in three months have approved legislation on veterans’ benefits, the semiconductor industry and gun checks for young buyers. The president and lawmakers have also responded to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and overwhelmingly supported NATO membership for Sweden and Finland.

With President Biden’s approval rating lagging, Democrats are hoping that the string of successes will jump-start their chances of maintaining control in Washington in the November midterms. The 79-year-old president aims to restore his own standing with voters as he contemplates a reelection bid.

The White House announced Monday that it was going to deploy President Biden and members of his Cabinet on a “Building a Better America Tour” to promote the recent victories. One of President Biden’s trips will be to Ohio, where he’ll view the groundbreaking of a semiconductor plant that will benefit from the recent law to bolster production of such computer chips. He will also stop in Pennsylvania to promote his administration’s plan for safer communities, a visit that had been planned the same day he tested positive for COVID-19 last month.

“In the coming weeks, the President will host a Cabinet meeting focused on implementing the Inflation Reduction Act, will travel across the country to highlight how the bill will help the American people, and will host an event to celebrate the enactment of the bill at the White House on September 6th,” the White House said in a statement.

Republicans say the legislation’s new business taxes will increase prices, worsening the nation’s bout with its highest inflation since 1981. Though Democrats have labeled the measure the Inflation Reduction Act, nonpartisan analysts say it will have a barely perceptible impact on prices.

Senate Minority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., on Tuesday continued those same criticisms, although he acknowledged there would be “benefit” through extensions on tax credits for renewable energy projects like solar and wind.

“I think it’s too much spending, too much taxing, and in my view wrong priorities, and a super-charged, super-sized IRS that is going to be going after a lot of not just high-income taxpayers but a lot of mid-income taxpayers,” said Thune, speaking at a Chamber of Commerce event in Sioux Falls. The administration has disputed that anyone but high earners will face increased tax scrutiny, with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen directing the tax agency to focus solely on businesses and people earning more than $400,000 per year for the new audits.

The measure is a slimmed-down version of the more ambitious plan to supercharge environment and social programs that President Biden and his party unveiled early last year.

President Biden’s initial 10-year, $3.5 trillion proposal also envisioned free prekindergarten, paid family and medical leave, expanded Medicare benefits and eased immigration restrictions. That crashed after centrist Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said it was too costly, using the leverage every Democrat has in the evenly divided Senate.

During the signing event, President Biden addressed Manchin, who struck the critical deal with Schumer on the package last month, saying, “Joe, I never had a doubt” as the crowd chuckled.

Though the law is considerably smaller than their initial ambitions, President Biden and Democrats are hailing the legislation as a once-in-a-generation investment in addressing the long-term effects of climate change, as well as drought in the nation’s West.

The bill will direct spending, tax credits and loans to bolster technology like solar panels, consumer efforts to improve home energy efficiency, emission-reducing equipment for coal- and gas-powered power plants, and air pollution controls for farms, ports and low-income communities.

Another $64 billion would help 13 million people pay premiums over the next three years for privately bought health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Medicare would gain the power to negotiate its costs for pharmaceuticals, initially in 2026 for only 10 drugs. Medicare beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket prescription costs would be limited to $2,000 annually starting in 2025, and beginning next year would pay no more than $35 monthly for insulin, the costly diabetes drug.

Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., a powerful political ally to President Biden, noted during the White House ceremony that his late wife, Emily, who battled diabetes for three decades, would be “beyond joy” if she were alive today because of the insulin cap.

“Many seem surprised at your successes,” Clyburn told President Biden. “I am not. I know you.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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