Biden’s Latest Multitrillion-Dollar Plan Brings Big Government, Far-Left President

Posted on 04/28/2021 8:18 AM

Traders to closely listen to Fed Chair Powell re: economic outlook, inflation


In Today’s Digital Newspaper


Market Focus:
• Traders wait to assess FOMC statement, Fed chair presser comments
• U.S. consumer jumps to highest level since Covid-19 pandemic hit
• Coming this summer: Gas stations running out of gas?
• This year’s boom for dry-bulk carriers continues
• Ag demand update

Abiove pushing Brazil’s government to be transparent about any biodiesel blend increase
• Sugar and ethanol production down notably for Brazil the first half of April
• Russia may lower duties on soybean exports in 2021-22
• Boxed beef values surge
• Big jump in cash hog bids


Policy Focus:
• Biden to unveil $1.8 trillion ‘American Families Plan’
• Senate Ag panel met with USDA’s Vilsack
• Suit seeks debt relief for white farmers


Biden Administration Personnel

• Update on USDA nominations
• McCabe cleared by Senate for EPA post


China Update:
FT: Chinese census data to show first population decline since 1949
• Businessman Qin Shuren is set to plead guilty today in federal court


Trade Policy:
• New trade deals continue as question for Biden administration


Energy & Climate Change:

• Biden plans to provide more than $8 billion in financing for power-grid improvements
• Justices focus on defining ‘extension’ relative to biofuels case in Supreme Court hearing
• House Agriculture Committee putting together climate hearing

Coronavirus Update:
• Vaccinated Americans can go maskless outside, with caveats
• Pfizer might roll out an oral treatment for Covid-19 by year end
• U.S. pledges to help India on Covid but no call made yet on IP waiver for vaccines


Politics & Elections:
• Debate night for New York City’s next mayor
• Cuomo to review 'legal options' in challenging New York's House seat loss

Other Items of Note:
• Students from China, Brazil, Iran & S. Africa will be exempt from U.S. travel bans
• Marijuana legalization paying off for Illinois




Equities today: Global stock markets were mixed to mostly firmer overnight. U.S. stock indexes are pointed toward mixed openings. Focus today is on the conclusion of the Fed’s FOMC meeting, and a press conference from Fed Chair Jerome Powell. The economic calendar today includes some high-profile earnings from manufacturing heavyweights like Boeing and, as well as Big Tech names like Apple and Facebook. Asian equities finished mostly higher with an eye on the US Fed meeting conclusion later today. The Nikkei rose 62.08 points, 0.21%, at 29,053.97. The Hang Seng Index was up 129.80 points, 0.45%, at 29,071.34. European equities are seeing gains in most markets in early action. The Stoxx 600 was little changed with most regional markets seeing gains of 0.1% to 0.6%.


     U.S. equities yesterday: The Dow edged up 3.36 points, 0.01%, at 33,984.93. The Nasdaq fell 48.56 points, 0.34%, at 14,090.22. The S&P 500 was down 0.90 point, 0.02%, at 4,186.72.


On tap today:


     • U.S. advance economic indicators for March are out at 8:30 a.m. ET.
     • Federal Reserve releases a policy statement at 2 p.m. ET and Chairman Jerome Powell holds a press conference at 2:30 p.m. ET.
     • President Biden addresses a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol at 9 p.m. ET.


The Fed will end a two-day policy meeting this afternoon with ultralow interest rates likely still in place to support the economy. Fed officials have noted in public comments the recent pickups in hiring, spending and inflation, but have signaled no readiness to consider changing key policies. The attention will be on the wording in the post-meeting statement and then on the post-meeting presser with Fed Chairman Jerome Powell. The focus mostly will be on any comments on inflation as the Fed has held the view that the current rise in inflation is “transitory” and will not be sustained. Markets, however, have become increasingly concerned that the rise in economic activity is going to spur inflation. How Powell frames the inflation situation will be key, but it seems unlikely that the Fed will signal any major shift at this point in their stance. The rise in commodity prices has in part fueled the inflation worries with ag commodity futures hitting their highest marks in eight years this week. Others, however, follow the Fed’s line of thinking that as the year wears on, inflationary pressures will ease as the economy expands and economic activity continues to recover from the pandemic. If the Fed expresses alarm at inflation or bond yield rises, that could fan those inflationary concern in markets. But any nuances in the Fed’s outlook or guidance could be very important.       


     The Fed has held overnight interest rates near zero since March 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic and related restrictions delivered a severe blow to the economy. Since June, the central bank has also been purchasing at least $80 billion of Treasury bonds and at least $40 billion of mortgage-backed securities to hold down longer-term borrowing costs for consumers and businesses.


     Overnight, the yield on the 10-year Treasury climbed 2 bps to 1.65%, the same level where the rate stood on the day of the last Fed meeting.


     Fed balance sheet


U.S. consumer confidence in April jumped to the highest level since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country in force. The Conference Board's monthly index rose for the fourth straight month as more people received vaccinations, stimulus payments reached households, businesses more fully reopened and employers added jobs.


     Confidence rises


Coming this summer: Gas stations running out of gas? There is no looming shortage of crude oil or gasoline. Rather, it's the tanker truck drivers needed to deliver the gas to stations who are in short supply. According to the National Tank Truck Carriers, the industry's trade group, somewhere between 20% to 25% of tank trucks in the fleet are parked heading into this summer due to a paucity of qualified drivers. At this point in 2019, only 10% of trucks were sitting idle for that reason. "We've been dealing with a driver shortage for a while, but the pandemic took that issue and metastasized it," said Ryan Streblow, the executive vice president of the NTTC. "It certainly has grown exponentially." Link for details via CNN Business.


     The ag sector may well ask: What could this do for the grain sector in the fall?


Market perspectives:


     • Outside markets: The U.S. dollar index is firmer. Nymex crude oil prices are higher and trading around $63.15 a barrel. Meantime, the yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note is presently fetching around 1.64%. Bond yields are on the rise again at mid-week. Gold and silver futures are registering losses ahead of the US trading start, with gold around $1,766 per troy ounce and silver around $26 per troy ounce.

     • Crude oil futures have continued to rise ahead of U.S. gov’t inventory data due later this morning. U.S. crude is trading around $63.60 per barrel and Brent around $66.50 per barrel. Crude prices moved lower in Asian action, with U.S. crude down 16 cents at $62.78 per barrel and Brent crude was down 17 cents at $66.25 per barrel.


     • This year’s boom for dry-bulk carriers continues. Daily freight rates for the sector’s big capesize ships are soaring, the Wall Street Journal reports (link), as China’s efforts to boost its economy create surging demand for metals and other commodities at the center of industrial markets. Corn is also in high demand. China is stepping up its grain imports as the country seeks to replenish its pig farms after an outbreak of deadly swine fever. The growth so far this year is defying seasonal trends that usually see a falloff in bulk commodity shipments in the first quarter, and some shipping executives say they see the robust demand for iron ore, coal and other raw materials continuing. Industry watchers warn that some of that demand is essentially a mirage, however, because factories are still struggling to replenish depleted inventories. Sea-going capacity remains relatively strong and a rush of new ships or a pause in demand could quickly turn the market around, the article notes.


        Futures prices

     • Ag demand: Egypt canceled its tender to buy an unspecified amount of wheat from global suppliers. South Korea’s Korea Corn Processing Industry Association bought around 50,000 MT of corn that’s expected to be sourced from Ukraine in a private deal. Jordan has just one participant in its international tender to buy 120,000 MT of animal feed barley. Taiwan’s MFIG purchased around 65,000 MT of animal feed corn, likely from Argentina. South Korea’s Major Feedmill Group issued an international tender to buy up to 210,000 MT of animal feed corn. South Korea’s Nonghyup Feed Inc. issued an international tender to buy up to 69,000 MT of animal feed corn to be sourced from optional origins. Algeria’s state agency issued an international tender to buy around 30,000 MT of soymeal from optional origins.


Items in Pro Farmer's First Thing Today include:

     • Abiove pushing Brazil’s government to be transparent about any biodiesel blend increase
     • Sugar and ethanol production down notably for Brazil the first half of April
     • Russia may lower duties on soybean exports in 2021-22
     • Boxed beef values surge
     • Big jump in cash hog bids




— President Joe Biden will unveil this evening a $1.8 trillion "American Families Plan" in his first address to a joint session of Congress. Link to White House fact sheet.


     Here are the major provisions in the “American Families Plan”

  • Free universal pre-school for all three- and four-year olds ($200 billion)
  • Two years of free community college for all Americans ($109 billion)
  • Increased investment in childcare to ensure that childcare costs low and middle-income families no more than 7% of their income, improve the quality of care, and offer a $15 minimum wage for all early childhood staff ($225 billion)
  • Creation of a national comprehensive paid family and medical leave program, providing workers up to $4,000 a month for twelve weeks of paid parental, family, and personal leave ($225 billion)
  • Expansion of summer lunch programs for low-income families and school meal programs ($42 billion)
  • Extension of expanded tax credits for Affordable Care Act premiums from the American Rescue Plan
  • Extension of the expanded Child Tax Credit from the American Rescue Plan through 2025

     Details: The 10-year plan would be part funded by tax hikes on the wealthiest Americans. Private equity's "carried interest" tax break is among the targets in the reform of the tax code. The package includes $511 billion for education, including universal preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds and free community college, and funding for childcare, including a subsidy that would cap expenses for most workers at 7% of income (the subsidy for childcare, however, would only go to families earning up to 1.5 times their state median income. It would ensure that those families spend no more than 7% of their income on childcare for children 5 years old and younger). The plan calls for $225 billion to subsidize 12 weeks of paid parental and sick leave and $45 billion more for food stamps and school food programs. About $800 billion would go toward tax credits, including $200 billion for ObamaCare users.


     The Biden plans are starting to add up. The proposal he plans today follows a $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief law (including $1,400 in stimulus checks to most people and $350 billion in state and local aid — without any Republican votes via a budget reconciliation process that bypasses the usual 60-vote threshold for bills to pass the Senate) and comes as he is also promoting a $2.25 trillion infrastructure package that includes new spending on bridges, roads and broadband internet — it would include about $400 billion for home health care and nearly $200 billion in electric vehicle subsidies. It would be paid for by raising corporate tax rates.


     Biden will call for a universal preschool program for 3- and 4-year-olds and two years of tuition-free community college for all Americans, including the young immigrants known as Dreamers, who were brought to the U.S. as children and have lived in the country illegally. Those programs would be available to Americans at all income levels, officials said, and would be funded in partnership with states.


     The package seeks money to make childcare more affordable for low- and middle-income families and boost federal funding to child-care providers. And it would establish a national paid-leave program for those needing time to care for a child or loved one or to recover from illness, among other reasons. That would provide 12 weeks of leave by the 10th year of the program, and workers would receive up to $4,000 a month, with a minimum of two-thirds of wages replaced.


     Pay-fors include raising the top income-tax rate to 39.6% from 37%, for individual filers earning more than $523,000 or joint filers over $628,000 — and on investments like stocks and real estate. For households making more than $1 million, Biden would also raise the top rate on capital gains and dividends to 39.6% from 20%. Including existing payroll and investment taxes — each 3.8% — the top rates on wages and capital gains would reach 43.4%, up from 23.8%. Biden would expand that 3.8% tax to types of income it doesn’t currently cover. The administration’s plan would include active income earned in businesses such as partnerships and S corporations above $400,000, according to an official.


     Biden would also adjust how capital gains are taxed at death. Unrealized gains would be treated as sold and taxable, with an exemption of $1 million a person, besides the existing exclusion of up to $500,000 for a married couple’s primary residence. Under current law, heirs only owe capital-gains taxes on gains after the original owner’s death and only when they sell.


     The capital gains provision is separate from the estate tax, which the plan wouldn’t change.


     The plan includes tax cuts for lower- and middle-income Americans. Biden would permanently extend the expanded tax credit for childcare and the expanded earned-income tax credit for childless workers. He would also make the child tax credit permanently fully refundable, which means low-income households could get the money even if they don’t have earned income. Biden’s plan does not make permanent the Covid-19 relief law’s temporary child tax credit expansion to $3,000 a child and $3,600 for those under age 6. Instead, he would extend that break through 2025.


     As previously reported, the plan relies on $700 billion in revenue from the IRS that the administration says would come from a significant expansion of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) ($80 billion funding) that would double its enforcement staffing over a decade and require banks to provide the government with more information about money coming into and out of individuals’ and businesses’ accounts. A senior administration official stressed to reporters that Biden only wants more dreaded tax audits for the wealthy and not the middle class. “In America today, taxpayers are more likely to be audited if they live in the Mississippi Delta than if they live on Park Avenue. The president’s plan would change this,” the official insisted. According to the White House, budget cuts caused the IRS to perform 80% fewer audits over the last decade on those making over $1 million a year.


     Audit Rates


     The proposal omits repeal of the 2017 SALT deduction cap of $10,000 per person, which hammered residents of higher-tax states by preventing them from deducting state tax payments on their federal tax returns. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.) and two New Jersey Democrats — Josh Gottheimer and Bill Pascrell — said they won’t vote for the final package if it doesn’t repeal the SALT cap.


     Bottom line: In total, Biden’s multi-trillion-dollar spending splurge would be the biggest federal investment in the middle and lower classes since President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society, with the potential to alter the country for generations. The two packages face GOP opposition, for both their costs and the proposed tax increases, but Republicans are especially likely to dismiss this new plan as a Democratic policy wish list. But seeking buy-in from congressional Republicans, Biden stopped short of proposing to expand the estate tax. He also ignored calls, largely from Democrats, to do away with the cap on deductions for state and local taxes that was part of the Republicans’ tax law, and which disproportionately hits taxpayers in Democratic-led states. Now what? The infrastructure and “families” plan can pass separately under budget reconciliation via a recent Senate parliamentarian ruling that gave Democrats two more opportunities this year to use the special rules. But the tax hikes and specifics of spending are likely to be subject to protracted wrangling on Capitol Hill. Democrats hold a six-vote advantage in the House, meaning Rep. Suozzi and his allies have the power to stall the newest package over the SALT deduction if they hold firm.


— Senate Ag panel met with USDA’s Vilsack. Members of the Senate Ag Committee met with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack Tuesday in what was an “off-the-record” session, according to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). While not sharing what other lawmakers brought up or Vilsack’s responses, Grassley told reporters he raised issues on “protecting farmers from corporations.” He noted provisions in farm bills that addressed some of those issues and he called on USDA to “complete the work of Congress” on that front.


     While he slipped and said that Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) brought up biofuel assistance that Congress authorized in the December Covid aid plan, Grassley said his intention was to raise the issue as it is “very important” for his home state of Iowa which is “number one” in biofuel production. He noted that former USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue had told Congress he needed more authority to be able to provide financial assistance to biofuel producers which was provided in the Covid aid plan.


— Suit seeks debt relief for white farmers. Texas agriculture commissioner Sid Miller is the plaintiff in a court case challenging the $4 billion debt-relief plan approved by Congress for selected Black and minority farmers, saying it was unconstitutional. “Americans of all races and ethnicities must have the opportunity to receive” USDA loan forgiveness, said America First Legal Foundation in unveiling the suit. (Link to lawsuit.) Although a public official, Miller participated in the lawsuit as a private citizen.


     The lawsuit detailed U.S. history is filled with discrimination against white immigrants based on their countries of origin or religious beliefs, so white farmers should qualify for debt relief although they were not included in the legislation. The debt relief plan obliges the USDA to pay up to 120% of the amount due on loans made directly to disadvantaged farmers or by private lenders through USDA loan guarantee programs. The additional 20% would cover taxes associated with loan forgiveness. Congress also approved a related $1 billion to improve access to land, resolve “heirs property” issues and provide legal aid to socially disadvantaged farmers.


     USDA “will continue to implement the debt relief to qualified socially disadvantaged borrowers” while reviewing the lawsuit against it, said a spokesperson. USDA also is conferring with the Justice Department.


     America First Legal said attempts to remedy past discrimination were themselves discriminatory and unconstitutional. America First Legal started operation three weeks ago with the backing of former president Donald Trump with a board of directors that included Mark Meadows, a former Trump chief of staff, according to CBS News (link). Its leader is Stephen Miller.

     Now what? The lawsuit was assigned to U.S. district judge Reed O’Connor, whose court is a favorite forum for conservatives, said the Texas Tribune (link). “A 2007 appointee of President George W. Bush, O’Connor handed Texas several major wins” over Obama-era policies.




— Update on USDA nominations. The White House announced that Jennifer Moffitt is their pick to be USDA undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs. Moffitt has been undersecretary at the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and she previously was deputy secretary there for 2015-2018. Her family operates an organic walnut farm and processing operation, and she has previously served on the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (2012-2015) and worked for the American Farmland Trust (2002-2005).


     Also, the nomination of Robert Bonnie to be undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation was formally sent to the Senate Tuesday (April 27), setting the stage for the Senate Agriculture Committee and full Senate to consider his nomination.


— McCabe cleared by Senate for EPA post. The Senate Tuesday approved the nomination of Janet McCabe to be deputy administrator at EPA, clearing her on a vote of 54-42. Three Republicans — Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) — supported McCabe’s nomination while Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) voted against confirming her to the role.



FT: Chinese census data to show first population decline since 1949. The Financial Times reports (link) that the latest census numbers are likely to show that China’s population declined for the first time since 1949. The FT signals the decline in the world’s most populous country will likely drop its count under 1.4 billion, but it’s unclear how much less. That could have major repercussions for the Chinse economy as it recovers from the pandemic as well as how its citizens perceive China. Some analysts saying the country faces a demographic crisis with a rapidly aging population. In 2015, it rescinded its one-child policy, but birth rates have continued to decline and there is talk the country could raise its mandatory retirement age. The country’s central bank in a report published last week estimated the total fertility rate at less than 1.5 children per woman vs. the official estimate of 1.8 children. The sensitive population figures were supposed to be released earlier this month but have been delayed.

— Businessman Qin Shuren is set to plead guilty today in federal court to felony charges that he illegally procured U.S. marine technology for a Chinese military-research institute. U.S. officials and court documents describe the Chinese national as a cog in Beijing’s grand plan to build an undersea-drone armada — in part by acquiring advanced U.S. and allied technology — that is emerging as a threat to American naval might. The case also demonstrates how easily China bypassed U.S. export controls that require waivers to export sensitive technology. Details via the WSJ.




— New trade deals continue as question for Biden administration. Wrapping up trade deals with the U.K. and Kenya remain open questions for the Biden administration, with a discussion between U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai and U.K. Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss yielding no update on the pending trade deal.


     Readouts of the session noted the two discussed “issues of mutual importance,” including “industrial subsidies, climate change, and the large civil aircraft dispute,” the USTR readout said. But neither side made mention of the pending trade negotiations that were started under the Trump administration.


     As for Kenya, Secretary of State Antony Blinken today will meet with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Ambassador Raychelle Omamo. A U.S. State Department fact sheet released ahead of the meeting noted that two sides launched bilateral trade negotiations in July 2020. “The two sides are currently reviewing the negotiations before deciding the next steps,” the fact sheet noted.


     The Biden administration has made clear that negotiating new trade deals is lower on their priority list on trade with more attention likely on enforcement of existing trade deals. It appears that is still the case.




— Biden administration plans to provide more than $8 billion in financing for power-grid improvements, framing them as part of the fight against climate change. That includes $5 billion in loan guarantees for projects that might transport direct current, connect to offshore wind farms or be sited along railroads and highways.


— Justices zero in on defining ‘extension’ relative to biofuels case in Supreme Court hearing. The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in its review of the Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision to invalidate three small refinery exemptions (SREs) for the 2016 compliance year, determining that the requests were not extensions of existing waivers of the refineries’ Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) obligations.


     The focus appeared to be on the definition of “extension” as those on both sides of the argument presented their case, with some reading the dialogue as indicating the justices may be more prone to back the biofuel industry on the situation.


     A decision on the matter from the court is not expected for months, a situation which means no action on the current slate of pending SREs will take place until that decision is rendered. There are currently 20 SREs pending for the 2011 through 2018 compliance years, with another 46 sought by small refiners for the 2019 and 2020 compliance years. EPA has signaled the pending requests will not be addressed until the Supreme Court issues its decision.


— House Agriculture Committee putting together climate hearing. The House Agriculture Committee is currently in the planning stages of a hearing on climate change/carbon markets, panel Chair David Scott (D-Ga.) told members of the North American Agricultural Journalists (NAAJ). “There are a zillion carbon markets that are just popping up,” Scott said, asking “How do we navigate this growing field of different firms?” He noted the Bayer Crop Science carbon program operating in 17 states as a point of interest, and the CIBO Technologies effort that focuses on developing technology to measure carbon sequestered by agricultural activity.


     Scott said he and Ranking Member GT Thompson (R-Pa.) are working quickly on putting the hearing together. “We are bringing in the major players in this new, emerging carbon market because so many of them are unique,” he noted.


     Meanwhile, Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) told the group that the climate bill approved by her panel last week is expected to see consideration by the full Senate, but the timeline is unclear. She also did not rule out the Biden administration tapping the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to fund climate activities but cautioned she will not support “anything that would undermine the farm bill programs,” a reference to the CCC’s main responsibility to fund traditional farm programs.


     Ag panel Ranking Member John Boozman (R-Ark.) continued to question USDA’s authority to operate a carbon bank without authorization from Congress, noting the CCC Charter Act specifies “agricultural commodities” in terms of activities, noting that considering carbon an agricultural commodity is a “stretch.” Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), the top-ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the USDA budget, also is skeptical. “I don’t think the legislative authority is there to do it.” Boozman and Hoeven spoke separately to the North American Agricultural Journalists annual meeting. Boozman said he believed carbon markets should be a private undertaking. Some psay a USDA carbon bank could set a minimum price per ton of carbon sequestered. Others say a bank could share the cost of equipment farmers would need to adopt climate-smart practices; or it could pay them for mitigation activities.


     There still appears to be more questions than answers on the carbon/climate front relative to U.S. ag policy ahead, but it is an area the House and Senate Agriculture Committees and USDA have identified as a key area ahead for their policy focus.



Summary: Global cases of Covid-19 are at 148,763,564 with 3,136,874 deaths, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. case count is at 32,176,050 with 573,381 deaths. The Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center said that there have been 232,407,669 doses administered, 88,717,362 have been fully vaccinated, or 27.1% of the U.S. population.

— Vaccinated Americans can go maskless outside. The CDC revised its social-distancing guidelines, allowing people who have received their shots to forgo masks outdoors except in crowded venues like stadiums.


     Meanwhile, Pfizer’s C.E.O., Albert Bourla, said the drug maker might roll out an oral treatment for Covid-19 by year end.


— U.S. pledges to help India on Covid situation but no call made yet on IP waiver for vaccines. President Joe Biden this week told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the U.S. will do everything it can to help India work through a surge in Covid infections, according to Kurt Campbell with the National Security Council. Biden told Modi, “You let me know what you need, and we will do it. We will do everything possible to support India during this incredibly difficult time,” Campbell said in remarks during a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event.


     However, the Intellectual Property (IP) waiver sought by India and some other countries on Covid vaccines is not yet one of those actions. "We have to evaluate whether it’s more effective to manufacture here and provide supply to the world or the IP waiver is an option," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters. "There has not been a recommendation made from USTR, nor has the president made a decision."  The U.S., European Union (EU) and other developed countries have resisted the push from developing countries for the IP waiver so boost the vaccine production capabilities around the globe.



— Debate night for New York City’s next mayor. New York City’s Democratic mayoral candidates will meet for their first live in-person debate in advance of the June primary.


— Cuomo to review 'legal options' in challenging New York's House seat loss. The impending loss of a House seat was unwelcome news in New York, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo is exploring legal options to keep the state's congressional representation. The Democrat said New York's loss of one House seat as a result of population shifts recorded by the 2020 census was "not desirable," adding that "the last thing we want to do is lose representation in Washington." "Do I think [the Census] was accurate to within 89? No, and we're looking at legal options," he said during a press conference on Tuesday, alluding to the assessment that New York would not have lost its seat had it only counted 89 more people.



— Students from China, Brazil, Iran and South Africa will be exempt from U.S. travel bans, as the Biden administration moves to speed up the processing of visas.


— Marijuana legalization is paying off for Illinois, where tax revenue on sales of marijuana recently surpassed levies collected on alcohol. According to estimates from the independent policy nonprofit the Tax Foundation (link), the scope for tax revenue on recreational marijuana sales runs to the tens of millions of dollars per year for many states, if not more.



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