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Wake Up To Politics - August 9, 2021

Wake Up To Politics: “Code red for humanity”
Wake Up To Politics - August 9, 2021

Good morning! It’s Monday, August 9, 2021. Election Day 2022 is 456 days away. Election Day 2024 is 1,184 days away.

Welcome back to Wake Up To Politics. I hope you had a good weekend. There’s a lot of news to get to this morning — but I’m leading off with a new climate report from scientists carrying a fairly dire message.

“Code red for humanity”

Global climate change is rapidly intensifying and “unequivocally” driven by humans, according to a landmark United Nations report released this morning.

Issued by the UN-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). the 3,900-page scientific report relied on more than 14,000 peer-reviewed studies and was approved by 195 governments. It is the IPCC’s most comprehensive climate assessment since 2013.

The report found that the planet has warmed by roughly 1.1 degrees Celsius, or 2 degrees Fahrenheit, since the 19th century — and is now on track to reach the long-feared milestone of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels within two decades.

At that level of warming, which is now expected to arrive 10 years earlier than previously projected, scientists have projected far-reaching consequences, from brutal heat waves to mass extinctions.

“The changes in climate to date have little parallel in human history, the report said,” according to the New York Times. “The last decade is quite likely the hottest the planet has been in 125,000 years. The world’s glaciers are melting and receding at a rate ‘unprecedented in at least the last 2,000 years.’ Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide have not been this high in at least 2 million years.”

A myriad of extreme weather events this summer has also shown the accelerating effects of climate change, including forest fires in Greece and Turkey, flooding in Germany, and scorching heat waves across the Pacific Northwest of the United States.

The Dixie Fire in northern California became the second-largest wildfire in state history on Sunday. (Kyle Grillot/Washington Post)

The report’s authors — more than 200 of the world’s leading climate scientists — bluntly stated that the blame for such temperature changes rests firmly with humans. “It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean, and land,” they wrote, warning that steep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions will be necessary to reverse these trends.

Labeling the report “a code red for humanity,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres added in a statement: “The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable: greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk.”

More than 190 countries have pledged to slash their emissions in order to stave off warming above a 1.5-degree increase, the goal set by the Paris climate agreement in 2015. The United States left the agreement under the Trump administration, but rejoined when President Joe Biden took office in January.

Biden has called for the U.S. to achieve a 50 percent reduction from 2005 levels of greenhouse gas pollution by 2030; just last week, he signed an executive order calling for half of all new vehicles sold in the country in 2030 to be electric. Gas-powered vehicles are the nation’s single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

What to watch: Congressional Democrats are planning a full-court press to address climate change in the massive spending plan they hope to pass through the one-party reconciliation process in the months ahead.

Democrats released their $3.5 trillion budget proposal this morning; the plan includes clean energy tax credits, a tax on imports from countries not taking aggressive climate action, and the creation of a “Civilian Climate Corps” that would hire young Americans to work on projects that would address the effects of climate change.

Coming up: On a global level, the next major point of action will be a UN climate change summit in Glasgow, Scotland, in November, when world leaders are slated to gather to discuss next steps in response to the IPCC report.

Dive in: The IPCC report is here. An executive summary is here.

The Rundown

More important news to know.


  • The $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package is nearing Senate passage. The bill advanced for a third time on Sunday, by a vote of 68-29.
  • The legislation is likely to receive final approval either today or tomorrow morning. One sticking point, over a provision to tax cryptocurrency brokers, has emerged, although it is unlikely if it will be modified since any additional amendments would require unanimous consent.
  • Former President Donald Trump reiterated his opposition to the package in a pair of statements this weekend, although Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and other onetime Trump allies have moved forward with supporting the bill. Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN), however, has emerged as a roadblock to the package, slowing down bipartisan efforts to speed up the bill.


  • Melissa DeRosa, the top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), resigned on Sunday as her boss nearly a dozen allegations of sexual harassment. An investigative report last week found that DeRosa was involved in retaliating against one of Cuomo’s accusers.
  • A onetime executive assistant to Cuomo who has accused the governor of harassment broke her silence with a CBS News interview this morning. Brittany Commisso, the former assistant, became the first Cuomo accuser to file a criminal complaint last week; the Albany sheriff said the complaint could lead to a misdemeanor charge against Cuomo.
  • Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) is quietly preparing to take the governor’s seat, the Wall Street Journal reports, even as Cuomo denies the allegations and refuses to heed calls to resign.
Melissa DeRosa listens to Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a coronavirus briefing. (Mike Wren/New York State Department of Health)


  • The United States is averaging more than 100,000 new coronavirus cases a day for the first time since February. Hospitals across the country have recorded a spike in cases among young children, who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated. “Our kids are getting sick,” Dr. Anthony Fauci warned on Sunday.


  • The Taliban seized the city of Talouqan this morning, overtaking its fifth provincial capital in Afghanistan in recent days. The group seized Kunduz on Sunday, the first major city to fall to Taliban control since the U.S. announced plans to withdraw from Afghanistan in September.

Policy Roundup: Economics

On Mondays, Wake Up To Politics contributor Davis Giangiulio offers a briefing on the week’s top economic news:

The U.S. economy added 943,000 jobs in June, surpassing expectations. The report, released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday, also revealed May and June were both better months for job creation than previously thought, revising the figures for the months up by 31,000 and 88,000, respectively. The unemployment rate fell to 5.4 percent, a 0.5 percent drop, and job gains were widespread, with only two sectors seeing small declines.

  • But there are still lingering effects of COVID in the report. The labor force participation rate, which measures how many people are employed or actively looking for work, remains stagnant, revealing how tough the return to work for some is. Plus, we’re still 5.7 million jobs down from February 2020, and 8.5 million down if growth in the job market was never disrupted by the pandemic.

This report, however, won’t reveal if the Delta variant is having any impact on the economy. That’s because job reports are lagging indicators since they only include data up to the middle of the month the report on. Mid-July was before the COVID resurgence began taking shape, so any impact at all won’t be felt here.

  • That’s why the White House, while praising the strong report, was also cautious, knowing that Delta could harm any further recovery. “My message today is not one of celebration,” said President Joe Biden in remarks about the report. “It’s one to remind us we got a lot of hard work left to be done, both to beat the Delta variant and to continue our advance of economic recovery.”
President Biden addressing the new jobs report on Friday. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Continuing unemployment insurance (UI) claims fell to a pandemic-era low this week: below three million. At the height of the pandemic, more than 20 million people were on state UI programs, plus millions of others on the federal government-created programs too. This week’s report, which revealed 2.93 million people were on UI, beat expectations that had predicted 3.26 million.

  • The fall comes as federal expanded UI benefits are set to expire on September 4, and while the Delta variant is making some pandemic measures stay, expanded UI seems to not be in the discussion. What that means is upwards of 7.5 million people, primarily those on federally backed programs like PUA will completely lose their UI.

But one pandemic-era policy that is staying in place is the pause on student loan payments, which was extended on Friday. Biden in a statement, announcing the extension until January 31, said that this was “one final time” to “give the Department of Education and borrowers more time and more certainty as they prepare to restart student loan payments.”

  • It comes after many Congressional Democrats pressed the White House to act, though their wish of an extension through March didn’t come to fruition. Overall though, that makes two big economic wins for the left this week: an extension of the eviction moratorium, and the student loan payment freeze.


What’s happening in Washington today. (All times Eastern) Executive Branch
President Joe Biden is at his home in Wilmington, Delaware. The only item on his schedule is receiving his daily intelligence briefing at 10 a.m.

Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona will travel to Topeka, Kansas. At 1 p.m., they will your a back-to-school vaccine clinic at a local high school. At 1:35 p.m., they will participate in a listening session with high school and college students who have been involved in vaccine outreach efforts.
Legislative Branch
The Senate will convene at 12 p.m. and continue consideration of H.R. 3684, the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

The House is on recess until September 20.
Judicial Branch
The Supreme Court is on recess until October 4.

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