There’s a consistent theme in President Joe Biden’s first budget proposal, released Friday morning: The federal government can help solve big problems. But to do that, the country needs to reinvest in areas it’s neglected for decades.
The $1.5 trillion discretionary funding request is only a proposal — and not even a complete budget proposal, with a more comprehensive version including mandatory spending and tax changes coming this spring. But it’s an important window into the new administration’s priorities, calling for a boost in domestic spending on issues ranging from education in poor communities to the opioid epidemic to climate change to pandemic preparedness.
The American Jobs Plan (AJP) proposed by President Biden on March 31 would spend $2.7 trillion and raise $2.1 trillion dollars over the 10-year budget window of 2022–2031, according to the Penn Wharton Budget Model (PWBM), a nonpartisan initiative that analyzes the economic impact of public policy proposals.
The AJP’s tax and spending provisions would increase government debt by 1.7% and reduce GDP by a quarter percentage point by 2031, the study projected. By 2050, however, government debt would fall by 6.4% and GDP would decrease by 0.8%, according to its estimates.
Back in August of 2014, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj had Xi Jinping over for lunch.
Mongolia’s then president had been coached by Chinese officials about the pomp expected when entertaining their head of state—but it was a tall order. “In Mongolia, we don’t have many rooms for dancing,” Elbegdorj laughs.
He decided instead on a more low-key approach. Elbegdorj, Xi and their wives enjoyed a meal of Mongolian staples—grilled meat, cheese, dumplings—at the president’s residence in a southern part of the capital Ulaanbaatar. In these quiet surroundings, Elbegdorj says the two leaders broached several sensitive issues. They discussed the potential for ethnic Mongolians to freely travel between Mongolia and the Chinese territory of Inner Mongolia. They also spoke of nationalist Chinese calls for Mongolia to be absorbed into the People’s Republic, and even discussed Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who is venerated by Mongolian Buddhists yet reviled by Beijing as a dangerous seditionary.
India became the country with the world’s second highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on Monday, surpassing Brazil, and now second only to the United States. But experts say that low testing in the country suggests the real total is far higher than both.
India now has 13.5 million confirmed cases, compared to the U.S.’s 31.1 million. The country is currently in the midst of a second wave of the virus, with confirmed daily infections reaching an all-time high of 168,912 on Monday.
The EU’s strategic ambition must not be just to carve out a niche for itself among the major powers but to reshape global governance.
With a conference in February organized by the European Union Institute for Security Studies and the Portuguese presidency, the EU launched a public discussion of the main objectives for its foreign policy and the means for their realization. The resulting ‘Strategic Compass’ is expected to be adopted in the first half of 2022.
After Brussels moved to impose sanctions on China in March, Beijing retaliated by targeting four Lithuanian politicians among more than a dozen European diplomats and officials. Now, despite direct pressure on Lithuanian MPs, Vilnius is planning to recognize as genocide China’s repression against Uighurs. EURACTIV’s media partner LRT.lt reports.
Lithuanian MP Dovilė Šakalienė was added to the Chinese sanctions list as one of the founders and leaders of the Interparliamentary Alliance on China, which brings together 100 MPs from 19 countries.
Together with other Lithuanian MPs, she has received “very strict, categorical and pressuring letters from the Chinese Embassy.”
According to Jakub Janda from the European Values Center for Security Policy in the Czech Republic, “China tracks closely who is exposing Chinese hostile behaviour in particular countries, Chinese Embassies in particular countries attack these individuals, so this Is just a collective Chinese action altogether.”
President Xi Jinping told German leader Angela Merkel during a phone call Wednesday (7 April) that he hoped Europe would “make positive efforts with China”, Chinese state media reported, following an international row over the treatment of Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang.
The call was Xi’s first with a European leader since last month’s tit-for-tat sanctions over allegations of human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region, which drastically soured relations between China and the EU.
The findings of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) in the two cases arising from complaints against Facebook by Austrian privacy campaigner Max Schrems highlight the fundamentally opposed approaches towards data and personal privacy in the EU and the US, writes Dick Roche.
Dick Roche is a former Fianna Fáil politician. He was the minister of state for European affairs when Ireland conducted the two referendums on the Treaty of Lisbon of the European Union, in 2008 and 2009.
The cases also shine a light on the extraordinary double standards of US policymakers who invoke concerns about data security in their efforts to push European countries in a direction that supports wider US geopolitical interests while applying lax standards domestically.
The unequivocal rulings of the Court of Justice in the two cases set a challenge for Europe’s Data Protection Commissioners and pose a conundrum as to how privacy protection arrangements in the US, which are honoured more in the breach than the observance, can be adjusted or augmented to satisfy EU data protection requirements.
Russia and China are frustrating the international response to the Myanmar crisis, a top European Union diplomat said Sunday (11 April), as the death toll from a military crackdown climbed past 700.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military removed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi from power on 1 February.
International efforts to stem the violence have so far failed to yield results, with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell saying Sunday it was “no surprise” that Russia and China were blocking efforts at the UN Security Council to impose an arms embargo.
Iran’s foreign ministry said Monday (12 April) it is suspending cooperation with the European Union in various fields following the bloc’s decision to blacklist several Iranian security officials over a 2019 protest crackdown.
Foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh “strongly condemned” the sanctions and said Iran is “suspending all human rights talks and cooperation resulting from these talks with the EU, especially in (the fields of) terrorism, drugs and refugees”.
He said Iran rejects “such actions from those falsely claiming to champion human rights”, adding Tehran is considering reciprocal sanctions.