Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks about the U.S. economy during a campaign event at McGregor Industries, a metal works plant that manufactures stairs and stair railings, in Dunmore, Pennsylvania, July 9, 2020.
Tom Brenner | Reuters
Former Vice President Joe Biden released a sprawling plan Tuesday to revamp American infrastructure and energy to both curb climate change and spur economic growth.
The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee’s proposal aims to achieve carbon-free power generation by 2035. As the coronavirus pandemic leaves the U.S. mired in an economic crisis, Biden will set out to create jobs that pay at least $15 per hour as the U.S. overhauls its roads, bridges, trains, auto industry and broadband system.
The plan, which comes days after a joint task force formed by the Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders campaigns outlined a climate change agenda, sets out a more ambitious approach to developing clean energy than the Biden campaign did during the Democratic primary. It calls for $2 trillion in spending over four years, more than the $1.7 trillion the campaign previously proposed to spend over a decade.
At the same time, the Democratic presidential hopeful aims to use the federal government to reverse years of Trump administration efforts to ease environmental rules, including by setting up an environmental and climate justice division within the Justice Department. The campaign said it would also create tools to better monitor and root out pollution that disproportionately leaves communities of color with chronic health issues.
The Biden campaign did not say how it would pay for the investments. The former vice president supports increasing taxes on corporations and the wealthiest Americans.
The plan will face opposition from Republicans who generally back a slower transition away from fossil fuels than Democrats. Biden’s ability to pass any climate plan will depend on Democrats’ ability to flip a net four Senate seats in November to win a majority in the chamber.
Biden’s proposal, which earned the support of climate change activist and former primary rival Tom Steyer, notably did not mention whether the campaign wants to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Biden during the primary called for limited restrictions on the practice for extracting natural gas.
The industry thrives in the swing state of Pennsylvania. Sanders, among others, called for a blanket ban on fracking.
The senator and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the climate change panel on the Biden-Sanders task force, have supported a sweeping Green New Deal energy and jobs plan. Biden has not embraced the proposal.
The Trump campaign criticized Biden’s plan on Tuesday, contending “union jobs related to oil, natural gas, fracking, and energy infrastructure will be on the chopping block in Joe Biden’s America.” The president has generally aimed to remove impediments to production of coal, oil and natural gas in the U.S.
Biden is set to speak about the green infrastructure and jobs plan on Tuesday afternoon.
This story is developing. Please check back for updates.
44-year-old South Carolina Democrat Jaime Harrison wants to take Lindsey Graham’s U.S. Senate seat “blue” and says his home state needs leaders in Washington who “understand the challenges of the 21st century.”
Saul Loeb | AFP via Getty Images
CNBC.com is interviewing candidates for federal office this summer to gain insight into their political vision for the U.S. and how it can impact the economic outlook for the 37% of the 2020 electorate that is from the millennial and Gen Z generations. Set to be the first American generations to be worse off than their parents, facing the threat of climate change and struggling with student debt, money matters matter to young voters in this election.
Name: Jaime Harrison
Running for: Senate, South Carolina, Democrat
Opponent: Republican Lindsey Graham
Experience: Former aide to Rep. James Clyburn, executive director of the House Democratic Caucus, first Black chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party
Education: Yale University (BA), Georgetown University (JD)
Family: Married to University of South Carolina law professor Marie Boyd, two young sons
CNBC: You recently tweeted “You can’t attend remote class if you don’t have internet.” What needs to be done in South Carolina to ensure that access to education is provided to all students during the pandemic?
What Congressman Clyburn [South Carolina Democratic congressman and House Majority Whip James Clyburn] has led in the House just recently, the provision in the Heroes Act, puts hundreds of billions of dollars in for infrastructure development. There was a study just recently here in South Carolina that it’s probably going to take about $800 million to build out the infrastructure in the state, but it’s so desperate and we desperately need it.
You know, we have about 38% of our rural communities in the state that have no access to Wi-Fi. How in the world do you expect our kids to compete with the rest of the world when they can’t even connect with the rest of world?
This is 2020 not 1920 and when we are now sheltering at home, asking our folks to work from home and our children to be educated from home, there are kids in South Carolina for the past few months who have not been able to get their schooling because the community that they live in has no access to WI-Fi or has no broadband. It’s just criminal and a lack of visionary leadership that we have found in the state and the nation.
Now Lindsey Graham is talking about this issue, but I’ve been talking about since I’ve gotten into this race and he’s been a senator for well over 20 plus years. It’s about time that we have people who understand the challenges of the 21st century representing us in Washington.
CNBC: According to Pew Research, Gen Z reports to being the hardest hit by the coronavirus with over half those polled saying they know someone who lost a job or had to take a pay cut due to the pandemic. How will you, in the Senate, not just try and bring back jobs, but protect them for vulnerable young Americans entering the workforce?
Well, even before that, we need to make sure that those folks who are on unemployment right now get the benefits that they so desperately need just to make ends meet.
We just had Lindsey Graham here in South Carolina say that “over his dead body” will he allow the extension of the federal benefits to those who are unemployed. We have over 600,000 people in the state of South Carolina that have filed for unemployment. People are desperate for assistance because their rent hasn’t stopped, mortgages haven’t stopped, the commodities that they pay for — eggs, bread, milk, etc. — all have increased in terms of the prices, and student loans are still there. And so, we see a fundamental disconnect between the needs of the people in this country and the leadership, and the bill that they’ve been proposing to address that.
So what we want to do, and what I want to do when I’m in the United States Senate, is fight for the people. They are our greatest assets that we have as a nation, not our companies, but the people. We have got to do all that we can to make them deal with the short-term pain that they’re experiencing while at the same time shoring up some of the long-term things to make sure that there are jobs available for them and that they can still go on to get a college education.
CNBC: According to the Fourth National Climate Assessment Report, the sector of our economy that will be most negatively impacted by climate change is the health care sector, with weather-related health conditions predicted to increase in severity and unanticipated health threats likely to emerge. What changes are needed to prepare our health-care system to deal with the impending crisis?
When I think about my legacy, I think about the world that we leave behind for our children. The climate change issue is real and we are seeing its effects right here in South Carolina. Growing up here, I remember when thousand-year storms happened once in a lifetime, not just every year as they are now. As a result, we’re starting to see sea levels rising and we’re seeing massive flooding in South Carolina.
In Williamsburg County, we have one hospital right now, and this is the direct result of how climate change impacts health care. Williamsburg County was a place where we had one of those thousand-year floods, because of all of this massive rain, there was so much rain that it forced the closure of their hospital. To this day, the question remains whether or not that hospital will reopen. They’re still working with FEMA right now to try to get everything, but it’s in a low-lying area and so therefore they don’t know if it’s worth the investment to rebuild that hospital where it is.
That will have a huge impact on the health care of the folks that live in that county, because this is the only hospital within miles. We’re going to see more of these things happen because of climate change across this country.
CNBC: In South Carolina, marijuana is fully illegal; it’s not legal for medicinal use and it is not decriminalized. However, young Americans disagree. According to Gallup, 81% of young Americans aged 18 to 29 believe marijuana should be legalized. Do you agree and what would you want to see in a Senate bill concerning marijuana?
I think we should legalize, regulate and tax marijuana like we do alcohol and tobacco. There is simply no medical reason to lock people up over this issue. In essence, this is about common sense. However, it’s also about criminal justice. We know that marijuana arrests, including those for simple possession, account for a large number of drug arrests. The racial disparities in marijuana enforcement — black men and white men smoke marijuana the same rates, but black men are much more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession — is just unacceptable.
Across the country, we are finding that states are legalizing marijuana and medical marijuana, and it’s just time for South Carolina to lead on this issue.
CNBC: A 2018 TD Ameritrade study showed that LGBTQ millennials, on average, made $59,400 a year while their straight counterparts earned $67,800. Further only 29% of LGBTQ respondents reported to feeling economically secure, as opposed to 41% of straight respondents. What do you think the Senate should do to take up this issue?
The recent court ruling on the LGBTQ workplace treatment decision was long overdue. It was past due for hard working South Carolinians and people across this country. Until this ruling, folks could legally be fired from their jobs because of their sexual orientation. One of the proudest accomplishments of my life was helping to pass the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crime Bill. We also worked on, in depth, the Employee Nondiscrimination Act, which again, tackled this particular issue of folks being discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or their gender identity.
We as a nation really need to make sure that Thomas Jefferson’s words, that “all people are created equal” – well he said all men, but I’m saying all people are created equal — actually means something. That means equal treatment under the law, that nobody should be treated differently under the law, and that we should all be protected.
We should all be able to exercise who we are and to do it with a freedom that we’re not going to be persecuted or fired from our jobs. So as a senator, I’m going to fight with the same passion and fervor that I did with the Employee Nondiscrimination Act and the Matthew Shepard James Byrd Hate Crimes bill to combat LGBTQ economic inequality and discrimination particularly in all forms, but especially in the workplace.
Netflix or Hulu: Normally Hulu, but right now, Netflix. I’m a cartoon junkie. Love ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender.’
Apple Music or Spotify: Spotify
Who is on your music playlist: I listen to a lot of oldies stuff. Some Motown, Michael Jackson, jazz, etc. I have young kids, so, “Wheels on the bus.” It will not get out of my head.
What was your first job? Bingo caller
What was your college major? Political Science, focused on American government. I also did teacher prep.
Favorite Marvel Movie: “Endgame” and “Black Panther.” I cannot wait for the second “Black Panther.” Well, “Guardians of the Galaxy,” too.
What is the best financial advice you have ever gotten from your parents? Not from my parents, but the advice I give is to join the Congressional Federal Credit Union, if you are eligible. It’s so much more personal and easier to get lines of credit.
Is a hot dog a sandwich? A hot dog is a hot dog…
Trump retweets game show host Chuck Woolery’s baseless claim that ‘everyone is lying’ about coronavirus
President Donald Trump retweeted a post by game show host Chuck Woolery that baselessly claimed “everyone is lying” about the coronavirus pandemic in a possible effort to thwart Trump’s re-election chances this fall by harming the economy.
The conservative Woolery, who hosted shows such as “Love Connection,” wrote on Sunday evening, “The most outrageous lies are the ones about Covid 19.”
“Everyone is lying. The CDC [federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], Media, Democrats, our Doctors, not all but most, that we are told to trust,” Woolery wrote.
“I think it’s all about the election and keeping the economy from coming back, which is about the election. I’m sick of it,” he added.
Woolery did not cite any evidence for his claim, or detail any purported “lies” by the targets of his tweet that the president reposted.
Soon after Trump shared the post, the president retweeted another comment by Woolery about the coronavirus outbreak in the United States.
“There is so much evidence, yes scientific evidence, that schools should open this fall. It’s worldwide and it’s overwhelming. BUT NO,” wrote Woolery, whose game show resume also includes acting as the first host of “Wheel of Fortune,” and helming “Scrabble,” “Greed” and “Lingo.”
Woolery’s comments were harshly criticized by a number of people, including by actress Rosanna Arquette, who in a Twitter reply wrote: “The most outrageous lies are being spoon fed to American citizens by the racist barbaric cruel trump administration and ignorant morons like yourself because of gross negligence Americans are dying and are loathed around the world because of impeached individual criminal.”
The journalist Kurt Eichenwald wrote: “Let’s see. A game show host, a politician, someone on social media, a guy on Fox News, or a person trained in epidemiology and infectious disease. Huh. You’re right. Hard to know which one of those to trust about issues involving epidemiology and infectious disease.”
The posts came as the United States hit new records for coronavirus cases as the virus spread in the South and West, with new cases of Covid-19 topping or approaching 60,000 additional diagnoses each day for the past week.
On Sunday, Florida reported 15,299 new cases of Covid-19 in a single day, shattering New York state’s individual state daily record by more than 3,000 cases.
Trump’s implicit endorsement of Woolery’s comments also came as officials in the Trump administration sought to discredit Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top federal infectious disease official. He has continued to issue stark warnings about the risks of reopening the country amid the pandemic.
On Monday, top executives at the Association of American Medical Colleges issued a statement saying the group “is extremely concerned and alarmed by efforts to discredit Anthony Fauci.”
“Dr. Fauci has been an independent and outspoken voice for truth as the nation has struggled to fight the coronavirus pandemic,” wrote AAMC President Dr. David Skorton, and Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Ross McKinney.
“As we are seeing from the surge in COVID-19 cases in areas that have reopened, science and facts — not wishful thinking or politics — must guide America’s response to this pandemic,” Skorton and McKinney said.
Earlier Sunday, U.S. Education Department Secretary Betsy DeVos argued for the Trump administration‘s push to reopen schools in the fall even as the pandemic continues to rage.
“School leaders across the country need to be making plans” to have students in the classroom, DeVos said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“There will be exceptions to the rule, but the rule should be kids go back to school this fall,” she said.
On Monday, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s health emergencies program, warned against making the decision to reopen schools “yet another political football in this game.”
“If we suppress the virus in our society, in our communities, then our schools can open safely,” Ryan said.
Trump on Sunday night also retweeted a third Twitter post from Woolery, who was replying to a Trump supporter who criticized Democrats.
Sen. Marco Rubio says the costs of not reopening schools in Florida are ‘extraordinary’ despite surge in coronavirus cases
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., in Russell Building on Wednesday, June 24, 2020.
Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call | Getty Images
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio suggested Monday that some high-risk Florida counties take “additional measures” to reopen schools in the fall as the state gets battered by the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think we need to be flexible about all sorts of things,” Rubio said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” while stressing that “the costs of not reopening our schools are extraordinary.”
The senator’s remarks came a day after Florida reported the largest single-day increase in positive Covid-19 cases of any state since the crisis began. More than 15,000 cases were confirmed Sunday in the Sunshine state.
Less than a week earlier, Florida’s education commissioner ordered schools throughout the state to reopen in August for in-person instruction at least five days a week.
In a tweet later Monday morning, Rubio reiterated that despite the risks, “at some point this fall kids need to be back in school.”
Despite the record-breaking number of infections, Rubio said most Florida counties will be able to safely reopen their schools on schedule.
“Florida’s an enormous state. We have 67 counties. I spent over a week now in northwest Florida where the vast majority of the counties could reopen. They’re not facing this,” Rubio said. “So I think in many of our counties the answer to that question is yes, we could.”
In the counties being hardest hit by the surge in cases, Rubio said he believed extra precautions should be taken – but he did not suggest that those areas should wait longer to reopen their schools.
For those areas, “I think we are going to have to take additional measures to be able reopen schools and I think we need to be flexible about all sorts of things,” Rubio said.
“It isn’t going to be school the way we’re used to in normal times, but at some point you have to make those decisions on the basis of a cost-benefit analysis: What are the costs of not reopening schools, what are the benefits with regard to the virus for not opening schools,” Rubio said. “And I think in the short and long term the costs are extraordinary.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, agreed.
“I have no doubt we can do this safely,” DeSantis said at a press conference Thursday, CNN reported. “We spent months saying that there were certain things that were essential — that included fast food restaurants, it included Walmart, it included Home Depot. If fast food and Walmart and Home Depot — and look, I do all that, so I’m not looking down on it — but if all that is essential, then educating our kids is absolutely essential.”
President Donald Trump has pushed state leaders to reopen their schools in the fall, threatening to cut off funding if in-person classes don’t resume. Vice President Mike Pence said that the Trump administration is considering ways to use a potential additional round of federal coronavirus relief to provide “incentives” for schools to reopen their doors.
Teachers’ advocates have pushed back on the pressure to get kids back in the classroom, warning that reopening prematurely could pose risks.
The nation’s second largest teachers union last week announced it would launch a $1 million ad campaign aimed at lobbying Congress to approve additional funds to help schools prepare for reopening.
Rubio told “Squawk Box” that lawmakers in Washington, D.C., need to do more to combat the spread of the virus and blunt the economic and societal impacts of the pandemic.
“I don’t have any doubt we do, particularly for smaller firms,” he said. “I think we’re 90% of the way there in terms of putting together some ideas about how to help truly small business under 300 employees or less, microtargeted not just for payroll but for the costs of paying for some of these adaptive technologies that they have to come up with to comply with local regulations.”
He added: “We’re going to have to be nimble and flexible here, because as this virus’ impact on our economy evolves our policies will to have to evolve to keep pace.”
— CNBC’s Christina Wilkie contributed to this report.
A woman drops off her main in ballot outside the Denver Elections Division polling center as she votes in the primary election on June 30, 2020.
Michael Ciaglo | Getty Images
Voting officials are concerned that drastic changes to election procedures in response to the coronavirus will confuse voters in November.
Dozens of states have expanded vote-by-mail access to give people an alternative way to safely cast a ballot in November. Multiple states have also set up more polling locations, and some are considering expanding the polling period to spread out people opting for in-person voting.
While election officials have ramped up communication efforts nationwide to inform voters of all changes, worries remain that voters will find it difficult to keep up.
Already, there have been multiple reports of voter confusion during primary elections. Voters told local news outlets in New Jersey that they were confused about where to cast their ballot during the state’s presidential primary last Tuesday. Others said they never received a ballot, despite an executive order from Gov. Phil Murphy ensuring that all voters would receive either a ballot or an application for one in the mail.
Voters in Pennsylvania, which held its presidential primary June 2, noted that longtime polling locations had moved elsewhere the day of the vote, resulting in confusion and frustration.
Georgia during its primary on June 9 chose to unveil a new voting system, leading to confusion among poll workers, who weren’t properly trained on using the machines. Voters suffered long lines and delays, as well as technical and logistical issues. Critics said the state’s primary was poorly executed and was tantamount to voter suppression.
Anticipating confusion in November
Many states fear that this kind of confusion — where voters are either unaware of or misinformed about how to cast a ballot — will also occur during the Nov. 3 election.
“Aside from the administrative issues of polling places, poll managers, Covid-19 supplies, and processing absentee ballots, our ability to educate voters on changes (or lack thereof) will play a key role in a successful November election,” said Chris Whitmire, director of public information at South Carolina’s Election Commission.
The most obvious potential source of voter confusion for South Carolina is the lack of new rules in place for the presidential election, Whitmire said.
Gov. Henry McMaster signed a law that authorized any voter in South Carolina to request an absentee ballot for the primary and runoff elections. And a federal court ruling said that those requesting an absentee ballot did not require a witness. These rules have expired, leaving “no changes to election procedures” at the moment, according to Whitmire.
“If there are changes, we’ll work to educate voters on those. If there are no changes, we will have to work to ensure voters understand that the rules in place for the primary no longer apply,” Whitmire added.
South Carolina has been emerging as a coronavirus hot spot in recent weeks, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention forecasting an acceleration in Covid-19 deaths in the state in the next couple weeks.
A sign reminds voters in Baltimore to practice social distancing. Tuesday, April 28, 2020.
Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images
“We know that the number of Covid cases are expanding in the state at record levels and are more concerned today than ever about the impact on November,” Whitmire said. “We don’t know if the General Assembly will again expand reasons or make any other changes, and if any of the several pending court cases will result in any changes.”
In Missouri, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft said he plans to mobilize his team in the next couple weeks to “explain what has changed and what people’s options are for voting.”
The state legislature expanded vote-by-mail provisions, adding mail-in voting options, Ashcroft said. These options look similar to no-excuse absentee voting, but are slightly different, according to Ashcroft.
Anyone in the state can request an absentee ballot this year, the state legislature determined. But the ballot envelope must be notarized unless the voter is immunocompromised or age 65 or older or has another condition that might put their health at risk. The notary requirement is what concerns Ashcroft, who suggested to CNBC that voters may not be aware of this distinction.
“It is against Missouri law for a notary to charge to notarize an absentee ballot,” Ashcroft said. “It is not against the law for a notary to charge to notarize a mail-in ballot.” His office has put together a list of organizations that have agreed to provide free notary services for mail-in and absentee ballots.
Several state officials told CNBC they are preparing to overcommunicate with voters to decrease potential for confusion ahead of Election Day.
“Our office has been actively working to keep Alabamians informed in a timely and efficient manner,” said Grace Newcombe, press secretary to Alabama’s secretary of state’s office.
In the weeks leading up to the state’s primary runoffs, “our office launched a multimedia campaign notifying Alabamians of the opportunity to vote absentee as well as important election dates to be aware of. We have sent out weekly press releases reminding Alabamians about how many days are left to apply for an absentee ballot and even introduced a video that walks voters through the process of applying for and casting an absentee ballot.”
An election official wears a mask and sits behind a plastic barrier as he checks in voters at McKinley Technology High School on primary Election Day on June 2, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Drew Angerer | Getty Images
Officials in Idaho have sought out new ways to reach voters, said Chad Houck, chief deputy secretary of state.
The office, as well as various Idaho counties, have been working on expanding their social media presence, particularly on Facebook, to reach audiences that may not be as aware of changes.
“They found a larger audience there and a growing audience there, which will now give them a better voice as we move into making changes or as things evolve going forward,” Houck said, adding that his office is looking at Election Day communications tools that we will probably try to test in November.”
In an effort to make the voting process easier, Michigan election officials are piloting a ballot-tracking service that allows voters to keep tabs on their individual ballots, according to Jake Rollow, director of communications and external affairs at the secretary of state’s office.
“It looks like many of the mail tracking services provided by companies that ship orders to individuals,” Rollow said. “Through the use of smart bar codes on the envelopes, the voter can see ballot’s status as it goes from the clerk to them and then back to the clerk.”
The state will employ this tracking program during its August primary, “with the expectation of expanding statewide for November,” Rollow added.
For its presidential primary, Indiana spent a portion of allocated CARES Act funds on a voter outreach campaign “that informed voters of changes to the election and advised them to request an absentee ballot,” said Ian Hauer, acting communications director at the secretary of state’s office.
“If changes are made to the general election, we will likely use a similar outreach campaign (in additional to our usual outreach campaign),” Hauer added.
In March, Congress allocated $400 million to the Election Assistance Commission to provide states with grants “to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, domestically or internationally, for the 2020 Federal election cycle.” But state and local officials have been urging Congress to appropriate more money, arguing funds are rapidly depleting.
“It’s looking like I spent close to 60% of my CARES Act funding on the primary election,” Jared Dearing, executive director of the Kentucky State Board of Elections, said Wednesday. “To put that in context, we are expecting turnout to go from 30%, which was a record high for a primary election, to as much as 70%.”