From unemployment rates to infrastructure to Biden’s meeting with the Queen, here are the 5 major stories you need to know from Jen Psaki’s Press Briefing on June 3, 2021, at the White House.
1. Unemployment Rates
On Thursday, initial claims for unemployment insurance fell to their lowest level and below 400,000 for the first time since the pandemic began. Average claims have fallen by about 50% and by more than 100,000 within the last month.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, one of the leading bodies in analyzing economic growth around the world, increased their projection for U.S. economic growth this year to 6.9% due to the strength of the American rescue plan and the Biden Administration’s pandemic response to get Americans vaccinated and lift the economy out of the crisis the President inherited.
Psaki stated today, “The United States is the only major industrialized nation to have its growth projection through 2025, revised upward. We also learned earlier this week that manufacturing activity in May was near its highest level in more than 15 years.”
2. Ransomware Attacks
In the wake of the recent ransomware attacks last week and from a few weeks ago, Deputy National Security Adviser for Cyber and Neuberger released an open memo to corporate executives and business leaders urging them to take immediate steps to address the threat of ransomware.
The federal government, under the leadership of President Biden has been stepping up to strengthen the nation’s defenses against cyber attacks. “But we can’t do it alone,” said Psaki. Business leaders have a responsibility to strengthen their cyber defenses to protect the American public and economy.
“The most important takeaway from the recent spate of ransomware attacks on the United States, Ireland, and Germany and other organizations around the world is the companies that view ransomware as a threat to their core business operations rather than a simple risk of data theft, will react and recover more effectively,” stated Psaki.
Deputy National Security Adviser laid out several highly impactful steps that private sector companies can take to harden their cybersecurity in her memo this morning, in which Biden encourages companies to do so.
The Administration’s focus is on the disruption of ransomware infrastructure and actors, including through close cooperation with the private sector, building the international coalition, expanding cryptocurrency analysis to find and pursue criminal transactions, and reviewing the United States’ ransomware policies.
3. Vaccine Distribution Internationally
The President has announced the U.S.’s commitment to sharing a total of 80 million doses by the end of June, with 25 million doses that will go out as soon as possible. “A number of those are going to even go out as soon as today,” stated Psaki.
The United States will be sharing at least 75% of these vaccines, which is approximately 19 million, through Covacs. Approximately 6 million will go to Latin America and the Caribbean, 7 million for South and Southeast Asia, 5 million with the African Union and Africa CDC. The U.S. is sharing 25% of these vaccines with countries with immediate needs and to help surges around the world.
Only FDA-approved doses will be going out, including Johnson and Johnson, which requires one dose, and Moderna and Pfizer, which require two doses.
The Administration is also working with vaccine manufacturers to vastly increase vaccine supply for the rest of the world to create jobs here at home.
Psaki stated that the Administration wants to “Ensure vaccines are delivered in a way that is efficient and equitable, and follows the latest science and public health data to provide vaccines for populations across different regions and those most at risk as well as nations experiencing surges high burdens of disease or low vaccination rates.”
The President will not use the United States’ vaccine supply to secure favors from other countries.
In the wake of the ongoing conversations over the Infrastructure bill, President Biden tried to give Republicans an alternative to funding infrastructure. He suggested a 15% minimum tax rather than a hike in the corporate tax rates.
“The book minimum tax, which is the 15% minimum tax, was actually in the American jobs plan as one of the pay for components,” stated Psaki. Press Secretary Psaki made clear that Biden’s 15% minimum tax proposal was not a new approach. It was included in the administration’s budget, campaign, and the American jobs plan proposal. Biden expressed his belief in the benefit of tax enforcement and how that could be a revenue raiser.
Psaki argued, “That opposing this proposal would mean not only opposing raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans who’ve done extraordinarily well during the 10th pandemic, but it would also mean opposing the very enforcement of the 2017 tax law. It would mean, maybe having the view that, that nobody should pay that these 50 corporations who didn’t pay taxes shouldn’t pay any taxes at all. And that certainly is not the view the President has.”
President Biden’s priorities for the bill include ensuring that we’re investing in the infrastructure of the future, making sure veterans’ hospitals are rebuilt, and making sure we’re making electric vehicles.
When it comes to a deadline, Speaker Pelosi mentioned how she wants to move forward with infrastructure in June. In contrast, Senator Leader Schumer talked about how he wants to move forward with infrastructure in July. Biden does not plan on making any deadlines at this time.
The Administration feels there are several paths forward for next week. Biden and Senator Capita plan to meet tomorrow to negotiate further.
5. Biden’s plans for meeting with the Queen
President Biden plans to meet with the Queen of Windsor Castle and Prime Minister Boris Johnson next week in the UK.
“We continue to have a special relationship with the United Kingdom, and I’m certain we’ll have more to preview early next week about what the trip looks like, but there’s a range of issues of mutual interest, from the future of economic growth in the world to addressing the COVID pandemic to security issues around the world,” said Psaki.
Biden accepted the “graceful invitation” to visit and will be accompanied by Dr. Biden on his trip. This will be President Biden’s first stop on a foreign trip.