WASHINGTON — President Biden is expected to name Lina Khan, a law professor and leading critic of the tech industry’s power, to a seat on the Federal Trade Commission, a person with knowledge of the decision said on Tuesday.
An appointment of Ms. Khan, the author of a breakthrough Yale Law Journal paper in 2016 that accused Amazon of abusing its monopoly power, would be the latest sign that the Biden administration planned to take an aggressive posture toward tech giants like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. Last week, the administration said Tim Wu, another top critic of the industry, would join the National Economic Council as a special assistant to the president for technology and competition policy.
Ms. Khan recently served as legal counsel for the House Judiciary’s antitrust subcommittee and was among aides who conducted a 19-month investigation into the tech giants’ monopoly power. The committee produced a report advocating major changes to antitrust laws. Before that, she served as an aide to a member of the Federal Trade Commission, Rohit Chopra, a champion of her ideas on antitrust policy.
Ms. Khan, an associate professor at Columbia Law School, would fill one of three Democratic seats on the five-member F.T.C. In December, the commission sued Facebook, accusing it of antitrust violations, and called for breaking up the company. The agency is also investing Amazon for antitrust violations.
Rumors of Ms. Khan’s appointment, which were reported earlier by Politico, immediately sparked strong reactions on Tuesday. Public Citizen, a left-leaning nonprofit public advocacy group, cheered the possibility. The organization and many progressive groups have denounced the F.T.C.’s history — particularly during the Obama administration — for lax enforcement of technology companies. They argue that the federal government’s permissive attitude toward mergers by the tech giants, including Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014, helped the Silicon Valley companies grow quickly and dominate their rivals.
“The F.T.C. has failed to take on corporate abuses of power including rampant antitrust violations, privacy intrusions, data security breaches and mergers, and Khan’s appointment as a commissioner at the agency hopefully will herald a new day,” Public Citizen said in a statement.
Senator Mike Lee of Utah, the ranking Republican on the Senate antitrust subcommittee, said Ms. Khan would be a bad fit for the job, however.
“Her views on antitrust enforcement are also wildly out of step with a prudent approach to the law,” Mr. Lee said in a statement. “Nominating Ms. Khan would signal that President Biden intends to put ideology and politics ahead of competent antitrust enforcement, which would be gravely disappointing at a time when it is absolutely critical that we have strong and effective leadership at the enforcement agencies.”
Roger Mudd, the anchorman who delivered the news and narrated documentaries with an urbane edge for three decades on CBS, NBC and PBS and conducted a 1979 interview that undermined the presidential hopes of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, died on Tuesday at his home in McLean, Va. He was 93.
The cause was kidney failure, his son Matthew said.
To anyone who regarded anchors as mere celebrities who read the news, Mr. Mudd was an exception: an experienced reporter who covered Congress and politics and delivered award-winning reports in a smooth mid-Atlantic baritone with erudition, authority and touches of sardonic humor.
He worked for CBS from 1961 to 1980 as a Washington correspondent and weekend anchor and was being groomed to succeed Walter Cronkite on the “CBS Evening News.” When the network named Dan Rather instead, a surprised and disappointed Mr. Mudd resigned.
CBS interview with Senator Kennedy on Nov. 4, 1979, days before the senator began his campaign to wrest the Democratic presidential nomination from the incumbent, Jimmy Carter. Mr. Kennedy, heir to the political legacies of his assassinated brothers, had a 2-to-1 lead in the polls when he faced Mr. Mudd and a prime-time national audience.
“Why do you want to be president?” Mr. Mudd began.
Mr. Kennedy hesitated, apparently caught off guard.
“Well, I’m — were I to — to make the, the announcement and to run, the reasons that I would run is because I have a great belief in this country,” he stammered.
was wounded before it began and never recovered.
Mr. Mudd, who won a Peabody Award for the interview, also narrated “The Selling of the Pentagon,” a 1971 documentary that exposed a $190 million public relations campaign by the Defense Department that included junkets for industrialists and television propaganda.
Roger Harrison Mudd was born in Washington on Feb. 9, 1928, to Johnand Irma (Harrison) Mudd. His father was a mapmaker for the U.S. Geological Survey, his mother a nurse. An ancestor was Samuel A. Mudd, a doctor who went to prison for treating John Wilkes Booth for the broken leg he suffered jumping to the stage of Ford’s Theater after shooting Abraham Lincoln in 1865.
After graduating from Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington, Mr. Mudd joined the Army in 1945. He earned a bachelor’s degree at Washington and Lee in 1950 and a master’s degree in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1953. He began in journalism in 1953 as a reporter for The News Leader of Richmond, Va., and soon became news director of the newspaper’s radio station, WRNL.
she died in 2011.In addition to his son Matthew, he is survived by two other sons, Daniel and Jonathan; a daughter, Maria Ruth; 14 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Robert Trout, the network’s coverage of the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City.
Mr. Mudd was a natural on camera: tall and tanned, energetic but relaxed, with a long face that conveyed a rugged imperturbability. As his stature rose at CBS, he became the anchor on weekends and as a fill-in when Mr. Cronkite was on vacation or special assignment. He also covered Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaign, and was on the scene when the senator was assassinated in Los Angeles.
Mr. Mudd won Emmys for covering the shooting of Gov. George Wallace of Alabama in 1972 and the resignation of Vice President Spiro T. Agnew in 1973, and two more for CBS specials on the Watergate scandal. He was named CBS national affairs correspondent in 1977, and became the heir apparent as Mr. Cronkite’s 1981 retirement approached.
John Chancellor as anchor. Instead, the network named Mr. Mudd and Mr. Brokaw co-anchors, one based in Washington and the other in New York, but that arrangement did not last.
Mr. Mudd went on to be an anchor on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in 1984 and ’85 before his move to PBS as a political correspondent and essayist for “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour.” His documentaries on the History Channel included accounts of America’s founders, biblical disasters and the sinking of the Andrea Doria.
Mr. Mudd’s well-received 2008 memoir, “The Place to Be: Washington, CBS and the Glory Days of Television News,” recalled an era of war, assassinations and scandals and news coverage by Eric Sevareid, Harry Reasoner, Marvin Kalb, Daniel Schorr, Ed Bradley and others who shared his spotlight.
In 2010, Mr. Mudd donated $4 million to Washington and Lee University to establish the Roger Mudd Center for the Study of Professional Ethics and to endow a Roger Mudd professorship in ethics.
The latest revision of the Paycheck Protection Program appeared to be a victory for the most vulnerable small businesses, offering more generous relief to companies like solo ventures that were eligible for only tiny loans — or none at all.
If only they could take advantage of the changes.
President Biden announced an abrupt overhaul two weeks ago to funnel more money to very small companies, some of which qualified for loans as small as $1 under the old guidelines. But the Small Business Administration updated its systems only on Friday, and with just three weeks before the program is set to expire, some lenders say there just isn’t enough time to adapt to the changes.
The result has been gridlock and uncertainty that have left tens of thousands of self-employed people frantic to find lenders willing to issue the more generous loans before the program ends on March 31.
JPMorgan Chase, the program’s largest lender this year in terms of dollars disbursed, doesn’t plan to act on the new loan formula before it stops accepting applications on March 19. Bank of America, the second-biggest lender, opted against updating its loan application and said it would contact self-employed applicants to manually sort out their applications — but wouldn’t accept new ones after 5 p.m. today.
forums like Reddit to hash out their options and to swap tips on which lenders are using the new formula and which ones are not. “Desperate for Guidance!” one typical post reads. “Reaching out to see if anyone can help me figure out this absolutely monstrous failure.”
The disarray is compounded by the other major change Mr. Biden announced last month: a 14-day window, which ends today, during which the Small Business Administration would accept applications only from companies with fewer than 20 employees. The intent was to get aid to needy businesses, especially those run by women and minorities. The vast majority of those businesses are sole proprietorships that would benefit from the new formula, and many rushed to take advantage of the priority period.
But the nearly two-week delay for the more generous rules put lenders in a tough spot: They could pause applications from sole proprietors, creating a backlog they would later have to unravel, or they could approve applications under the previous formula, which would result in much smaller loans for their customers.
Biz2Credit, which has made more loans this year than any other lender, temporarily stopped accepting applications while it worked to adjust to the new rules. It plans to resume this week, said Rohit Arora, its chief executive.
Other large lenders — including Cross River Bank and Customers Bank, which round out the program’s top five lenders — said they had begun processing loans on Monday using the new formula.
Hundreds of thousands of borrowers who have already received their loans have no way to reapply under the more generous rules, infuriating business owners like Bryan Cordova, who finalized a loan for his printing business in Round Rock, Texas, just days before Mr. Biden announced the changes.
stimulus payments would be $1,400 for most recipients. Those who are eligible would also receive an identical payment for each of their children. To qualify for the full $1,400, a single person would need an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or below. For heads of household, adjusted gross income would need to be $112,500 or below, and for married couples filing jointly that number would need to be $150,000 or below. To be eligible for a payment, a person must have a Social Security number. Read more.
Buying insurance through the government program known as COBRA would temporarily become a lot cheaper. COBRA, for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, generally lets someone who loses a job buy coverage via the former employer. But it’s expensive: Under normal circumstances, a person may have to pay at least 102 percent of the cost of the premium. Under the relief bill, the government would pay the entire COBRA premium from April 1 through Sept. 30. A person who qualified for new, employer-based health insurance someplace else before Sept. 30 would lose eligibility for the no-cost coverage. And someone who left a job voluntarily would not be eligible, either. Read more
This credit, which helps working families offset the cost of care for children under 13 and other dependents, would be significantly expanded for a single year. More people would be eligible, and many recipients would get a bigger break. The bill would also make the credit fully refundable, which means you could collect the money as a refund even if your tax bill was zero. “That will be helpful to people at the lower end” of the income scale, said Mark Luscombe, principal federal tax analyst at Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting. Read more.
There would be a big one for people who already have debt. You wouldn’t have to pay income taxes on forgiven debt if you qualify for loan forgiveness or cancellation — for example, if you’ve been in an income-driven repayment plan for the requisite number of years, if your school defrauded you or if Congress or the president wipes away $10,000 of debt for large numbers of people. This would be the case for debt forgiven between Jan. 1, 2021, and the end of 2025. Read more.
The bill would provide billions of dollars in rental and utility assistance to people who are struggling and in danger of being evicted from their homes. About $27 billion would go toward emergency rental assistance. The vast majority of it would replenish the so-called Coronavirus Relief Fund, created by the CARES Act and distributed through state, local and tribal governments, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. That’s on top of the $25 billion in assistance provided by the relief package passed in December. To receive financial assistance — which could be used for rent, utilities and other housing expenses — households would have to meet several conditions. Household income could not exceed 80 percent of the area median income, at least one household member must be at risk of homelessness or housing instability, and individuals would have to qualify for unemployment benefits or have experienced financial hardship (directly or indirectly) because of the pandemic. Assistance could be provided for up to 18 months, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Lower-income families that have been unemployed for three months or more would be given priority for assistance. Read more.
Even before the changes were announced last month, lenders were trying to unravel extensive errors and data verification problems that had stalled tens of thousands of applications. It would take an act of Congress to push back the deadline, and lenders and trade groups are calling, with increasing urgency, for an extension.
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants called the March 31 deadline “unrealistic,” and 10 banking groups sent a letter to lawmakers last week urging Congress to give them more time.
The Biden administration has not sought an extension, but key congressional leaders have said they are willing to pass legislation that would push back the deadline. The House Small Business Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on Wednesday about the status of the Paycheck Protection Program.
“It’s clear that small businesses are still feeling the effects of the Covid crisis and need P.P.P.’s support,” said Representative Nydia M. Velázquez, a New York Democrat who leads the House committee. She said Congress must “ensure this critical lifeline isn’t abruptly pulled away from small businesses.”
Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, Democrat of Maryland and the leader of his chamber’s small business committee, “would be open to a bipartisan agreement” to extend the deadline, according to a spokesman, Fabion Seaton.
have been waiting for months for the federal government to open a generous $15 billion grant fund for their industry that was authorized in December. But the money will not start flowing until April at the earliest, according to Mr. Coleman, the Small Business Administration spokesman.
Businesses have been barred from taking one of those grants if they also took a Paycheck Protection Program loan this year, but the $1.9 trillion relief bill that passed the Senate on Saturday would remove that restriction and count the loan toward any grant the business receives later. The bill is now before the House and is likely to be finalized by Mr. Biden this week.
That change would allow venues like the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas to get help faster. “We were thrilled to see that come through,” said Debbie Storey, the center’s chief executive.
Ms. Storey’s organization made the “painful” choice last week to forgo the grant and seek a Paycheck Protection Program loan instead, she said. Her lender had urged the center to apply this week or risk missing the deadline.
“We couldn’t afford to miss that window,” she said.
WASHINGTON — Former President Donald J. Trump called multiple times for repealing the law that shields tech companies from legal responsibility over what people post. President Biden, as a candidate, said the law should be “revoked.”
But the lawmakers aiming to weaken the law have started to agree on a different approach. They are increasingly focused on eliminating protections for specific kinds of content rather than making wholesale changes to the law or eliminating it entirely.
That has still left them a question with potentially wide-ranging outcomes: What, exactly, should lawmakers cut?
One bill introduced last month would strip the protections from content the companies are paid to distribute, like ads, among other categories. A different proposal, expected to be reintroduced from the last congressional session, would allow people to sue when a platform amplified content linked to terrorism. And another that is likely to return would exempt content from the law only when a platform failed to follow a court’s order to take it down.
open to trimming the law, an effort to shape changes they see as increasingly likely to happen. Facebook and Google, the owner of YouTube, have signaled that they are willing to work with lawmakers changing the law, and some smaller companies recently formed a lobbying group to shape any changes.
December op-ed that was co-written by Bruce Reed, Mr. Biden’s deputy chief of staff, said that “platforms should be held accountable for any content that generates revenue.” The op-ed also said that while carving out specific types of content was a start, lawmakers would do well to consider giving platforms the entire liability shield only on the condition that they properly moderate content.
Supporters of Section 230 say even small changes could hurt vulnerable people. They point to the 2018 anti-trafficking bill, which sex workers say made it harder to vet potential clients online after some of the services they used closed, fearing new legal liability. Instead, sex workers have said they must now risk meeting with clients in person without using the internet to ascertain their intentions at a safe distance.
Senator Ron Wyden, the Oregon Democrat who co-wrote Section 230 while in the House, said measures meant to address disinformation on the right could be used against other political groups in the future.
“If you remember 9/11, and you had all these knee-jerk reactions to those horrible tragedies,” he said. “I think it would be a huge mistake to use the disgusting, nauseating attacks on the Capitol as a vehicle to suppress free speech.”
Industry officials say carve-outs to the law could nonetheless be extremely difficult to carry out.
“I appreciate that some policymakers are trying to be more specific about what they don’t like online,” said Kate Tummarello, the executive director of Engine, an advocacy group for small companies. “But there’s no universe in which platforms, especially small platforms, will automatically know when and where illegal speech is happening on their site.”
The issue may take center stage when the chief executives of Google, Facebook and Twitter testify late this month before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has been examining the future of the law.
“I think it’s going to be a huge issue,” said Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, the committee’s top Republican. “Section 230 is really driving it.”
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration moved on Monday to reimpose financial sanctions on an Israeli mining executive who had turned to a team of lobbyists to have the measures eased during President Donald J. Trump’s final days in office.
The reversal came after a chorus of complaints from human rights advocates, members of Congress and activists in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the businessman, Dan Gertler, secured access to mining rights for decades through what the Treasury Department during the Trump administration called a series of corrupt deals that had shortchanged Congo of more than $1.3 billion in revenue from the sale of minerals.
In mid-January, shortly before Mr. Trump left office, Mr. Gertler secretly secured a one-year Treasury Department license that unfroze money he had deposited in financial institutions in the United States. The license also effectively ended a prohibition on Mr. Gertler doing business through the international banking system. The Trump administration had imposed those sanctions in 2017.
The Biden administration is now moving to reimpose those conditions, although Mr. Gertler is likely to have already moved at least some of the previously frozen money out of the United States.
Alan M. Dershowitz, a lawyer and lobbyist who helped represent Mr. Gertler in the push for the rollback of the sanctions, said he was disappointed with the Biden administration’s action.
“This decision was done unilaterally without an opportunity for Mr. Gertler to present evidence that he has been complying with all the requirements and conducting himself properly,” Mr. Dershowitz said. “We are now in the process of considering all of our options.”
Mr. Gertler has been doing business in Congo for more than two decades, securing a series of contracts to export diamonds, gold, oil, cobalt and other minerals. The Treasury Department said in 2018 that he had “amassed his fortune through hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of opaque and corrupt mining.”
more than a dozen that had called on the Biden administration to revoke the license. “Dan Gertler’s corrupt partnership with former President Joseph Kabila cost the D.R.C. dearly in terms of lost resources, lost services and, ultimately, lost lives.”
In 2019, Mr. Gertler hired Mr. Dershowitz, who has served as a lawyer to Mr. Trump, as well as Louis Freeh, a former F.B.I. director, to work as a lobbyist to try to push Treasury to revoke the sanctions.
Mr. Gertler was issued the license after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin directed the acting head of the agency’s Office of Foreign Assets Control to take the step, even though several Trump-era State Department officials in charge of United States relations with Africa told The New York Times that they had been unaware that such a move was about to be taken and that they opposed it.
After the issuance of the license became public, associates of Mr. Gertler said that part of the reason he had been granted special treatment was that he had played some undisclosed role in helping U.S. national security interests. Treasury officials and representatives for Mr. Gertler would not describe the specific nature of the assistance.
The same office at Treasury that had granted the license for Mr. Gertler in January revoked it on Monday, yet another sign of how unusual this series of events has been.
Activists in Congo who have been working for years to try to ensure that the wealth produced by mining minerals in the nation — which is one of the poorest in the world, even though it has some of the world’s most important mineral reserves — said they hoped the action would mean continued progress to combat corrupt deals that shortchanged people there.
“This will give the government here a reason to push a little bit harder on holding Dan Gertler and his associates accountable,” said Fred Bauma, a member of The Struggle for Change, a human rights group in Congo. “It is a good message from the new administration in the United States.”
Democrats in Congress who had called for Treasury to reverse the action also praised the move.
“If well-connected international billionaires like Gertler think there is a chance they can get away with their corrupt actions, then they will not be deterred from doing them,” Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, Democrat of Maryland and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement.
WASHINGTON — As many as 320,000 Venezuelans living in the United States were given an 18-month reprieve on Monday from the threat of being deported, as the Biden administration sought to highlight how dangerous that country has become under President Nicolás Maduro.
The immigrants also will be allowed to work legally in the United States as part of the temporary protective status the administration issued as it considers the next steps in a yearslong American pressure campaign to force Mr. Maduro from power.
“The living conditions in Venezuela reveal a country in turmoil, unable to protect its own citizens,” Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary, said in a statement. “It is in times of extraordinary and temporary circumstances like these that the United States steps forward to support eligible Venezuelan nationals already present here, while their home country seeks to right itself out of the current crises.”
Venezuela is mired in one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises under Mr. Maduro, who, through a mix of corruption and neglect, oversaw the decay of the country’s oil infrastructure that had propped up its economy. The United Nations has estimated that up to 94 percent of Venezuela’s population lives in poverty, with millions of people bereft of regular access to water, food and medicine.
Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader and former head of Venezuela’s National Assembly, as the country’s legitimate leader.
But one of the officials who briefed reporters on Monday on condition that he not be identified said the Biden administration was reviewing whether to lift a raft of economic sanctions that experts believe have cost Venezuela’s government has much as $31 billion since 2017.
The official said that review would assess whether the economic pressure exacted against Mr. Maduro and his government was worth the risk of exacerbating the dire living conditions for Venezuelans.
The new protections were welcomed by Democrats and Republicans in Congress who had appeared divided on the approach to immigration policy under Mr. Trump.
Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, said he supported the protections, although “it is critical that we continue working with our democratic allies to secure a Venezuela free from tyranny and ensure this temporary status in the U.S. does not become a permanent one.”
Senators Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, both Democrats, noted that earlier efforts to allow Venezuelan immigrants to remain in the United States were blocked by the former president’s supporters in Congress.
“For years, the world watched in horror as man-made humanitarian and political crises turned Venezuela into a failed state,” the senators said in a joint statement. “Despite these disastrous and dangerous conditions, Venezuelans were still forcibly deported back to their country by the Trump administration.”
federal appeals court sided with the Trump administration’s argument that immigrants from places like El Salvador, Haiti and Sudan, which were recovering from disasters or political turmoil, no longer needed safe haven in the United States.
Monday’s announcement signaled that the Biden administration was likely to continue at least some of the protections.
Roberto Marrero, a Venezuelan opposition leader who moved to Florida after spending a year and a half in jail in Venezuela, called Monday’s decision a “bittersweet victory.”
“It gives us protection,” he said, “but also reminds us that we’re here because there’s a dictatorship in our country.”
Lara Jakes reported from Washington, and Anatoly Kurmanaev from Bogotá, Colombia.
The Biden administration’s review comes at a time when skyrocketing waves of terrorism and violence have seized Africa’s Sahel region, a vast sub-Saharan scrubland that stretches from Senegal to Sudan, and is threatening to spread. The Islamic State in Libya has actively sought fresh recruits traveling north from West African nations, including Senegal and Chad.
Armed groups have attacked bridges, military convoys and government buildings. The threat is pushing south from the Sahel into areas previously untouched by extremist violence, including the Ivory Coast, Benin, Togo and Ghana, where the Pentagon has a logistics hub.
Security has worsened to the point where the Pentagon’s Africa Command told the Defense Department’s inspector general last year that it had abandoned for the moment a strategy of weakening the Islamist militants, and instead was mainly trying to contain the threat.
“Security continues to deteriorate in the Sahel as instability spreads and threatens coastal West Africa,” Colin Kahl, Mr. Biden’s nominee to be the Pentagon’s top policy official, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in written responses to questions in advance of a hearing last week. “We cannot ignore that persistent conflict in Africa will continue to generate threats to U.S. personnel, partners and interests from violent extremist organizations.”
The Pentagon’s Africa Command operates MQ-9 Reaper drones from Niamey, Niger’s capital, 800 miles southwest of Dirkou; and from a $110 million drone base in Agadez, Niger, 350 miles west of Dirkou. The military has carried out drone strikes against Qaeda and Islamic State militants in Libya, but none since September 2019.
Some security analysts question why the United States needs both military and C.I.A. drone operations in the same general vicinity to combat insurgents in Libya and the Sahel. In addition, France, which has about 5,100 troops in the Sahel region, began conducting its own Reaper drone strikes from Niamey against insurgents in Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali.
A recent report by the International Crisis Group concluded that the military-first strategy of France and its allies, including the United States, has failed. The research and advocacy organization, which focuses on conflict zones, noted in its report that focusing on local peacemaking efforts could achieve more.
Tucked inside the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill that cleared the Senate on Saturday is an $86 billion aid package that has nothing to do with the pandemic.
Rather, the $86 billion is a taxpayer bailout for about 185 union pension plans that are so close to collapse that without the rescue, more than a million retired truck drivers, retail clerks, builders and others could be forced to forgo retirement income.
The bailout targets multiemployer pension plans, which bring groups of companies together with a union to provide guaranteed benefits. All told, about 1,400 of the plans cover about 10.7 million active and retired workers, often in fields like construction or entertainment where the workers move from job to job. As the work force ages, an alarming number of the plans are running out of money. The trend predated the pandemic and is a result of fading unions, serial bankruptcies and the misplaced hope that investment income would foot most of the bill so that employers and workers wouldn’t have to.
Both the House and Senate stimulus measures would give the weakest plans enough money to pay hundreds of thousands of retirees — a number that will grow in the future — their full pensions for the next 30 years. The provision does not require the plans to pay back the bailout, freeze accruals or to end the practices that led to their current distress, which means their troubles could recur. Nor does it explain what will happen when the taxpayer money runs out 30 years from now.
said last week.
according to the agency itself. That would leave the roughly 80,000 other union retirees whose pensions the agency now pays without their payouts.
The new legislation changes that. It calls for the Treasury to set up an $86 billion fund at the pension agency, using general revenues. The agency would be required to keep the money separate from the funds it uses for normal operations. It would use the new money to make grants to qualifying pension plans, allowing them to pay their retirees. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that 185 plans were likely to receive assistance, but as many as 336 might under certain circumstances.
pensions that were cut in a 2014 initiative that tried to revive troubled plans by trimming certain people’s pensions. The stimulus bills — there is a House version and a Senate version that have minor differences — call for the affected retirees to get whatever money was withheld over the past six years.
The legislation requires the troubled plans to keep their grant money in investment-grade bonds, and bars them from commingling it with their other resources. But beyond that, the bill would not change the funds’ investment strategies, which are widely seen as a cause of their trouble.
For decades, multiemployer pensions were said to be safe because the participating companies all backstopped each other. If one company went under, the others had to cover the orphaned retirees. Because they were considered so safe, multiemployer pensions never got much oversight.
While companies that run their pension plans solo must follow strict federal funding rules, multiemployer plans do not have to. Instead, the companies and unions hammer out their own funding rules in collective bargaining. Both sides want to keep the contributions low — the employers to reduce labor costs, and the unions to free up more money for current wages. As a result, many of the plans have gone for years promising benefits without setting aside enough money to pay for them.
In hopes of making up for the low contributions, the plans often invest unduly aggressively for their workers’ advancing age. In bear markets they lose a lot of money, and they can’t ask the employers to chip in more because the employers are often struggling themselves.
The new legislation does nothing to change that dynamic.
“These plans are uniquely unable to raise their contributions,” said Mr. Naughton, whose clients included multiemployer plans when he was a practicing actuary. “When things go well, the participants get the benefits. If things go badly, they turn to the government to make it work.”
Welfare critics warn the country is retreating from success. Child poverty reached a new low before the pandemic, and opponents say a child allowance could reverse that trend by reducing incentives to work. About 10 million children are poor by a government definition that varies with family size and local cost of living. (A typical family of four with income below about $28,000 is considered poor.)
“Why are Republicans asleep at the switch?” wrote Mickey Kaus, whose antiwelfare writings influenced the 1990s debate. He has urged Republicans to run ads in conservative states with Democratic senators, attacking them for supporting “a new welfare dole.”
Under Mr. Biden’s plan, a nonworking mother with three young children could receive $10,800 a year, plus food stamps and Medicaid — too little to prosper but enough, critics fear, to erode a commitment to work and marriage. Scott Winship of the conservative American Enterprise Institute wrote that the new benefit creates “a very real risk of encouraging more single parenthood and more no-worker families.”
But a child allowance differs from traditional aid in ways that appeal to some on the right. Libertarians like that it frees parents to use the money as they choose, unlike targeted aid such as food stamps. Proponents of higher birthrates say a child allowance could help arrest a decline in fertility. Social conservatives note that it benefits stay-at-home parents, who are bypassed by work-oriented programs like child care.
And supporters argue that it has fewer work disincentives than traditional aid, which quickly falls as earnings climb. Under the Democrats’ plan, full benefits extend to single parents with incomes of $112,500 and couples with $150,000.
Backlash could grow as the program’s sweep becomes clear. But Samuel Hammond, a proponent of child allowances at the center-right Niskanen Center, said the politics of aid had changed in ways that softened conservative resistance.
A quarter-century ago, debate focused on an urban underclass whose problems seemed to set them apart from a generally prospering society. They were disproportionately Black and Latino and mostly represented by Democrats. Now, insecurity has traveled up the economic ladder to a broader working class with similar problems, like underemployment, marital dissolution and drugs. Often white and rural, many are voters whom Republicans hope to court.
In an extraordinary moment on the last full day of the first papal trip to Iraq, Francis went to Mosul, which was seized by the Islamic State seven years ago and declared the capital of its caliphate. The pope directly addressed the suffering, persecution and sectarian conflict that have torn the nation apart.
“The real identity of this city is that of harmonious coexistence between people of different backgrounds and cultures,” Francis said in a public square surrounded by the ruins of four Christian churches. Posters that read “Mosul Welcomes You” covered walls pockmarked with bullet holes.
The pope spoke of “our conviction that fraternity is more durable than fratricide, that hope is more powerful than death, that peace more powerful than war.” “This conviction speaks with greater eloquence than the passing voices of hatred and violence,” he continued, “and it can never be silenced by the blood spilled by those who pervert the name of God to pursue paths of destruction.”
The visit, which began on Friday, is Francis’s first trip since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The pope has sought to protect an ancient but battered Christian community and build relations with the Muslim world. On Saturday, he met with the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the revered Shiite cleric. We captured key moments of the trip in these images.
a stadium in the northern city of Erbil. The 84-year-old pope and his entourage have been vaccinated against Covid-19, but Iraq’s vaccination campaign began only last week.
the broadest reopening of Israel’s economy since the first coronavirus lockdown began a year ago.
Under Israel’s “Back to Life” program, restaurants still have restrictions on occupancy and social distancing, and indoor seating is available only to Green Pass holders — people over 16 who are fully vaccinated.
latest updates and maps of the pandemic.
In other developments:
As countries jostle to secure enough vaccine doses to end the Covid-19 pandemic, a second scramble is unfolding for syringes. A manufacturer in India sees a big opportunity.
The U.S. Senate passed its version of the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill on Saturday. The measure now goes back to the House of Representatives, which must approve the Senate’s changes before it can go to President Biden’s desk.
one of the most anticipated, and most heavily spun, television interviews in recent memory.
Was Meghan the victim of a cold, unwelcoming family that isolated her after she married Harry and is now defaming her? Or was she a Hollywood diva who mistreated her staff?
The two-hour interview will be broadcast by CBS in the U.S. on Sunday evening and on ITV in Britain on Monday. Here’s what you need to know about Meghan, Harry and Oprah. We will have live coverage of the interview, so check back on our home page.
six places dependent on tourism, like Apollo Bay, have adapted.
Here’s what else is happening
Microsoft hack: The company said businesses and government agencies in the U.S. that use a Microsoft email service had been compromised in an aggressive hacking campaign probably sponsored by the Chinese government. The number of victims is estimated to be in the tens of thousands and could rise.
Philippines rights: Karapatan, a left-leaning human rights organization, accused the country’s security forces of killing nine activists in coordinated raids on their homes and offices in four provinces.
“Nomadland” director: Days after Chloé Zhao won a Golden Globe for the acclaimed film, she faced a backlash in China over her past remarks about the country, where she was born. References to the film’s scheduled April 23 release in China were removed from prominent movie websites.
Tehran detention: House arrest orders have been lifted forNazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian woman detained in Tehran since 2016, but she faces new charges and her return to London remains uncertain.
receiving his first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine on Saturday in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala. The 85-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader used the moment to encourage people to take the vaccine, saying it would prevent “some serious problem.”
What we’re reading: This National Geographic article about people who play music with instruments made of ice. Scroll down for the video, so you can hear ice music’s crisp sound.
Now, a break from the news
breakfast bars with oats and coconut are perfect for a breakfast on the run or an afternoon nibble.
Listen: These podcasts are for people who know that they should be thinking more about their personal finances but aren’t even sure what the right questions are.
Do: Role-playing games, like Dungeons & Dragons, encourage players to create a story collaboratively as they play. Here’s how to play the games online.
Start off your week on the right foot with our At Home collection of ideas on what to read, cook, watch and do while staying safe at home.
the renewed love affair of New Yorkers with Central Park. Here’s an excerpt.
Central Park has long provided a refuge from the anxieties and stresses of daily life, perhaps never more so than during the coronavirus siege and four long years of increasingly toxic politics. New Yorkers who visited the park every day, as well as those who had long taken it for granted, felt a renewed love for this amazing rectangle of green in the heart of the big city.
P.S. • We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is the first of a two-part series on President Biden’s approach to Saudi Arabia. • Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Z as in ___(five letters). You can find all our puzzles here. • The Times has a new team that is going to expand our live coverage, including Andrea Kannapell, who has been the editor of the Global Briefings, including this one, since their inception.