Unfilled job openings are soaring while millions of Americans are collecting unemployment checks. 110 days in, Biden blamed it on his predecessor.
Not-So-“Jobless” Americans Can’t Believe Biden Would Cut Them Off.
President Joe Biden rankled some of his base on Monday by clarifying that no one should receive further unemployment benefits who refuses to accept suitable work.
“Anyone collecting unemployment who is offered a suitable job must take the job or lose their unemployment benefits,” Biden said. “The people who claim Americans won’t work even if they find a good and fair opportunity underestimate the American people. So we’ll insist that the law is followed with respect to benefits, but we’re not going to turn our backs on our fellow Americans.”
He went on to place pandemic job losses entirely at the feet of the last administration: “Twenty-two million people lost their jobs in this pandemic through no fault of their own. They lost their jobs to a virus, and to a government that bungled its response to the crisis and failed to protect them.”
Despite Biden’s “tough” talk, the White House refuses to admit that unemployment benefits have any role in the sluggish return to work, citing lack of vaccination, childcare, and a sufficient minimum wage as driving factors. “We don’t see much evidence that the extra unemployment insurance is a major driver in people not rejoining the workforce,” press secretary Jen Psaki said. “Our analysis shows that lack of vaccination, the lower rate … has an impact. Childcare has an impact. Schools reopening has an impact. But there is also the need to pay a livable working wage.”
A reporter clarified, “Bank of America economists who were cited in a Bloomberg story say, anybody making less than $32,000 a year is better off financially just taking the unemployment benefits. So is the White House creating an incentive just to stay home?” Psaki replied that “the majority of economists” don’t “feel” that unemployment insurance is a major driver; and that “bigger factors” have been contributing to the abysmal jobs numbers.
Online, some Biden voters reacted to the president’s statement as if they had been cut out of their family inheritance en masse, protesting that the move constituted being forced into unlivable, minimum wage jobs.
On Ransoms: We’re Thinking About It.
Biden addressed the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack Monday, saying that the FBI had confirmed the network was infected by ransomware and along with the Department of Justice, would work to “disrupt and prosecute ransomware criminals.” The FBI additionally confirmed that the DarkSide hacker group was responsible for the attack.
“In addition to companies stepping up, we need to invest to safeguard our critical infrastructure,” Biden said. “That’s one of the many things my American Jobs Plan is designed to do.” That’s a stretch: One of the critiques of the American Jobs Plan has been that it initiates massive infrastructure investment without additional cybersecurity-designated funding.
Deputy national security advisor for cyber technology Anne Neuberger indicated in a press conference that the federal government has no position on whether private companies should pay ransoms or not.
“We recognize that victims of cyberattacks often face a very difficult situation. And they have to just balance off, in the cost-benefit, when they have no choice with regard to paying a ransom . . . Typically, that is a private-sector decision, and the administration has not offered further advice at this time. Given the rise in ransomware, that is one area we’re definitely looking at now to say, ‘What should be the government’s approach to ransomware actors and to ransoms overall?'”
Asked if he believed Russia was involved in the attack, Biden replied, “I’m going to be meeting with President Putin. And so far, there is no evidence based on—from our intelligence people that Russia is involved. Although there is evidence that the actors—ransomware—is in Russia. They have some responsibility to deal with this.”
Biden’s Priorities: Overturning Religious Freedom, Vaccinating Kids.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has expanded the emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to include twelve- to fifteen-year-olds. The FDA’s decision is based on testing of 2,260 adolescent participants.
“More than half of the participants were followed for safety for at least two months following the second dose,” the FDA press release reads, stressing that anyone with a history of severe allergic reactions should not receive the vaccine. “Since its authorization for emergency use, rare severe allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, have been reported following administration of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine in some recipients.”
It also notes “limited data” in terms of the vaccine’s overall effectiveness. “At this time, there are limited data to address whether the vaccine can prevent transmission of the virus from person to person. In addition, at this time, data are not available to determine how long the vaccine will provide protection.”
Meanwhile, Biden’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) overturned a Trump-era rule that allowed hospitals and insurers to deny performing or covering certain procedures such as abortions or gender transition surgeries on the basis of religious freedom.
“Consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock and Title IX, beginning today OCR will interpret Section 1557’s prohibition on discrimination on the basis of sex to include: (1) discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation; and (2) discrimination on the basis of gender identity,” the statement reads.