Observing our president in Europe, I could only think: Things are getting better.
I saw him talk of conciliation and cooperation. I saw him exhibit world leadership, not egotistical showmanship. I saw him smile sunbeams of reassurance to allies. I saw that his wife’s hand did not elude his grasp.
In so many ways, things are getting better. Whatever might trouble us, like a Supreme Court sculpted by Mitch McConnell and the filibuster’s intractability, many signs point to a brighter day.
— To stop the practice of sheltering profits overseas, President Biden and fellow G7 leaders last week endorsed a 15 percent minimum corporate tax which – surprise – was endorsed a few days later by Amazon, Facebook and more.
— A push by rebel stockholders has forced ExxonMobil to adopt a new green business model that shifts away from a cyclops-like focus on fossil fuels. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman calls the events “one of the most consequential weeks in the history of the oil and gas industry and shareholder capitalism.”
— A worker shortage giving new leverage to workers, employers are being forced to raise once-exploitive pay scales. The New York Times reports that the “reservation wage,” economists’ term for the pay minimum workers require, has risen 19 percent since 2019, an increase of $10,000 a year. Hence, a novel way to raise pay short of raising the minimum wage: supply and demand, and a pandemic.
— Though they disagree on how much, Biden has signaled to Democratic leaders he is still intent on some degree of student debt forgiveness. For many young Americans, student debt is the biggest reason why they would delay or not even consider big steps like buying a home and starting a family.
— For millions who have started that family, the expansion of the Child Tax Credit built into the stimulus plan means a hand up out of poverty. Starting next month and through December it means monthly payments of up to $300 per month for each qualifying child under age 6 and up to $250 per month for each qualifying child age 6 to 17 based on income.
— Meanwhile, for those living on the streets, the stimulus plan signed in March included $50 billion to provide essential housing and assistance to the homeless. Nothing is more crucial to ending this cycle than the simple option of four walls, a bed and a door that locks. Efforts under President Obama to end homelessness among veterans show that this problem need not be intractable.
— On top of a massive vaccination effort, Biden has ordered the sharing of vaccines to third-world countries that acknowledges not only our humanitarian obligations but the public-health imperative of confronting the pandemic wherever it rages.
— While Republicans play to the bigotry of those who criticize what they can’t understand, this president told a joint session of Congress that he would fight for people marginalized because of their sexual orientation. “To all the transgender Americans watching at home, especially the young people who are so brave, I want you to know that your president has your back.”
That sounds so good: A decent man vowing to represent all Americans and to defy gestures and policies that would marginalize any.
Speaking of such things, a Gallup poll shows that an all-time high of 70 percent of Americans, including 55 percent of Republicans, support same-sex marriage. In keeping therewith, Saturday Vice President Harris and her husband marched in the Capital Pride Walk in Washington D.C. She wore a pink blazer and a “Love is love” T-shirt.
Rest assured, these sentiments are not reflected in anything the Republican Party does or says.
That’s called being on the wrong side of history.
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.