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Neuralink, Funding Deal, and Biden Waters Down EV Mandate – PolicySphere Morning Briefing – March 21, 2024

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#BigTech #Innovation #PublicHealth – It doesn’t have direct public policy implications, but the second-order implications are countless and vertiginous. Anyway, it is clearly the most important news of the day: Elon Musk’s Neuralink startup has enabled a paralyzed man to play computer chess with his mind.

#FundingDeal – It’s out! And it’s a big baby. The Hill: “The package combines funding for half of the 12 annual government spending bills, and sets off a sprint for lawmakers to put a stamp on the more than a trillion dollars in spending and prevent major agencies from suffering a lapse in funds. The plan includes measures funding for DHS; the departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and State; the Internal Revenue Service (IRS); and general government and foreign operations. Funding for the agencies could lapse on Saturday morning, leaving lawmakers with little time to get the package to President Biden’s desk. House Republicans are hopeful of a vote on Friday, but Senate procedure could draw out the consideration process into the weekend.”

#Environment #EVs – Before we look at the substance of the policy, let’s briefly look at why this article is a good example of why smart people no longer trust the New York Times (and why we believe serious, honest outlets like PolicySphere are the future).

Take this quote for example: “Electric vehicles are central to President Biden’s strategy to confront global warming, which calls for cutting the nation’s emissions in half by the end of this decade. But E.V.s have also become politicized and are a flashpoint in the 2024 presidential campaign.” Oh no! How dare you politicize our politicization of the auto industry?

Perhaps E.V.s are the future; perhaps phasing out gas cars is good policy. But it is certainly a political question. And opposing such mandates is not “weaponization”, as this implies: “Former President Donald J. Trump, who is campaigning to retake the White House from Mr. Biden in November, has sought to weaponize electric vehicles, repeating false claims during campaign rallies about their performance and affordability and using increasingly heated rhetoric. Most recently, he warned of a ‘blood bath’ in the middle of a remarks about electric vehicles.” As many noted when the “blood bath” comment was taken out of context by corporate media, President Trump was making the argument that favoring E.V.s would favor Chinese manufacturers (who are certainly currently among the leading manufacturers) and result in a “blood bath” for the U.S. auto industry. This is certainly a legitimate argument!

The left’s verbal tic of asserting that their political views are just value-neutral technocratic measures in the general welfare (or “science”) while all opposition constitutes presumably-illegitimate “politicization” or “weaponization” is not just false, it is an insult to the intelligence of honest observers, and journalists who pretend to be serious should not parrot it.

As Mickey Kaus points out, in fact, the New York Times seems to have the story backwards: the new rules plan most of the ramp-up in EV sales after 2030 (which might as well be “never” in the context of an election-year announcement), which actually represents a relaxation of the Biden Administration’s timetable for ramping up EV sales.

#MemoryLane #Covid #PublicHealth – We are living through the anniversary of “two weeks to slow the spread.” This X dot com thread by Free Beacon media reporter Drew Holden reminds us of how strange those days were.

#Immigration – “As Texas border arrests law teeters in court, other GOP states also push tougher immigration policy” (Border Report)

#Politics – Democrats understand politics is about rewarding friends and punishing enemies. Thus: “Biden administration to forgive student loans for 78,000 public service workers” (ABC News) …While, the RSC is talking about raising the retirement age in an election year. Perhaps raising the retirement age is a good idea. But it is certainly an interesting juxtaposition of two approaches to politics.

#BigTech #TikTok – Many senior executives of ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, are also Chinese Communist Party officials, National Review’s Jimmy Quinn points out.

#Realignment #TaxPolicyWSJ: “A progressive Democrat and a populist Republican are teaming up to attack big mergers, offering a new proposal that would remove a cornerstone of the corporate tax code and potentially reshape dealmaking. Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) and J.D. Vance (R., Ohio) want to eliminate companies’ ability to do tax-free mergers like the pending Capital One-Discover deal. Under their bill, shareholders who receive stock through such deals would owe capital-gains taxes immediately, instead of deferring those taxes until they sell their shares. The senators plan to introduce the legislation on Thursday; it has exceptions for companies with annual revenue below $500 million. The Whitehouse-Vance legislation stands little chance of becoming law soon, given that Congress is struggling to pass a tax bill that a majority of lawmakers support. But the bill is a sign of political sentiment against corporate power that unites some Republicans and Democrats who are otherwise far apart on tax policy. And it is a rare attempt to address competition policy through the tax code.”

#WashingtonEight ideas for a safer DC (Washington Post)

#PhilosophyWhy the left fears beauty (Auron MacIntyre)

Chart of the Day (via Kevin Bass): political ideology of American physicians, 1980 vs 2020

Meme of the Day

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