NEW YORK, July 25 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine shocked the world, forced Western countries to respond, and is driving up the cost of energy and food across the globe. High prices in the United States may spell electoral disaster for President Joe Biden’s administration in November’s congressional elections. However, the most urgent economic, social, and human crises are unfolding in poorer countries where populations face war, spillover-driven inflation, and more expensive foreign-currency debt.
Together these dynamics put populations in Asia, Africa, and some parts of Latin America and the Caribbean at risk of shortages, riots, unrest, and famine. The conflict in Ukraine is directly affecting supplies of food. News of a deal between Russia and Ukraine to allow grain exports is welcome. However, many minefields must be cleared and the deal be made to work in a time of war. We cannot yet assume trade routes will fully reopen. Russia and Ukraine together account for nearly a third of global wheat supplies, so any stoppage or constriction in trade affects access to basic foodstuffs for many.
Wheat prices are up while sunflower oil, meat, poultry, and a raft of other staples have also jumped in price, driven by higher fuel and fertilizer costs. The United Nations' Food Price Index, which captures the effects of war and supply disruptions, recently reached an all-time high of 156, up from 103 in 2020.
The alarming economic and political crisis in Sri Lanka shows what may occur elsewhere. Long-standing poor governance and corruption in the South Asian country has combined with economic crises, price hikes, and fuel and food shortages to snap the threads of economic and societal stability. The result is unrest, riots, and a collapse of the government.
Sri Lanka is unlikely to be the last country to face economic and governmental strife. Other poorly run, indebted, and stressed states - and their populations - could be weeks or months from similar turmoil. As Kristalina Georgieva, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, points out, food crises “can unleash social unrest, (yet) … hunger is the world’s greatest solvable problem”.
As the rich in the West grumble, governments in poorer states are reacting by placing restrictions on food exports, according to World Bank President David Malpass. He rightly notes that while inflation is bad for all, the poorest were already spending at least half of their income on food. They have extraordinarily little room to absorb price increases before they go hungry and their children face malnutrition.
Oxfam estimates as many as 323 million people are on the brink of starvation; the United Nations reckons 869 million are facing hunger. Unfortunately, the leaders of the world’s wealthy states are so far doing too little to avert the developing food emergency. In June the G7 group of nations, led by the United States, pledged $4.5 billion to help address the looming food shortage. But this is not enough to avoid disaster.
It’s not the first time insufficient pledges by the world’s richest economies have delivered worse outcomes for the planet. Two years ago epidemiologists estimated that vaccinating the populations of lower-income countries against Covid-19 would cost just $2 billion. The costs of a failure to equitably distribute the vaccine are conversely massive. Rand estimates the negative impact for lower-income countries was $156 billion in 2021–2022 and $216 billion the following year. Yet rich nation donors came up with only $700 million, while providing economic support worth $15 trillion for their own populations.
The food crisis requires rapid action and resources of at least $22 billion, according to the U.N. World Food Programme. Delay will only increase the human, economic, and societal costs.
The invasion of Ukraine has hobbled the G20, whose members include Russia. The group’s exact meeting in Indonesia ended in discord. Yet the pandemic also demonstrated that when crisis strikes only state actors, acting collectively, can marshal the necessary resources, spur private and public policy action, and get fast results.
So, what must be done? The International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and regional multilateral development banks in Asia, Latin America and Africa should be charged with managing the food and fuel crisis and equipped to step in urgently. These bodies, although consensual in nature, can direct resources and relief without a veto from Russia or its allies. This institutional room to act must be used swiftly.
We believe the response cannot wait until the World Bank and IMF hold their annual meetings in October. The leadership of these and other pillars of the global financial system must be empowered and act now.
First, they should monitor the fiscal and economic stability of countries facing increased distress from debt and rising food prices. Second, they should redirect existing and additional multilateral and bilateral resources. Current promises, such as the $2.3 billion committed by the World Bank, are insufficient. Third, leaders whose countries are in or nearing a crisis should receive multilateral support, with no shaming of that necessary step from public or private creditors and credit ratings agencies. Finally, public and private creditors should exercise restraint and be willing to take haircuts on their debt to secure stability. No one should profit from malnutrition and misery. Lenders must be part of the solution, not the problem.
In sum, national political and financial leaders still must work to ensure we avoid a food price crisis, famine, and human catastrophe. exact history suggests politicians often lack the will to act, even though they know what is needed and that the upfront financial costs are manageable. We hope we are wrong in this case. We fear we are not.
(The authors are Reuters Breakingviews guest columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.)
William R. Rhodes is president and chief executive of William R. Rhodes Global Advisors, and author of “Banker to the World”. Stuart P. M. Mackintosh is executive director of the Group of Thirty.
Editing by Peter Thal Larsen and Streisand Neto
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Opinions expressed are those of the author. They do not reflect the views of Reuters News, which, under the Trust Principles, is committed to integrity, independence, and freedom from bias.
RingTrue By Yemi Adebowale
He enjoys grandstanding and all the attention that comes with it. This man also does virtually everything to the extreme. That’s Nyesom Wike, the springy and tyrannical governor of Rivers State. Few weeks back, he gleefully announced that his government had decided to award contracts for two additional flyovers in Port Harcourt. When completed, it would be his administration’s 12th flyover in three years.
Wike celebrates his bizarre investment in flyovers, saying, “It has undeniably laid a solid foundation for sustainable growth of Rivers State.” He adds: “It will be record breaking in the history of this country that a state government is able to embark on 12 flyovers, not in eight years. You’ll remember these flyovers started in 2019, my second tenure. It is not that we started in 2015. For you to do 12 flyovers in four years, I don’t see who has broken that kind of record.”
A record? Certainly, a naughty one. It is so sad that this man called Wike equates development with massive construction of flyovers. So sad, he doesn’t understand the meaning of human capital development. While he is busy constructing his bogus and extremely expensive flyovers, thousands of youths of the state are roaming the streets unemployed. He is unperturbed about this crisis. Wike is not working to harness these human resources by motivating the creation of jobs. Instead, he is talking about building more flyovers. This governor seems to have forgotten that he promised to employ 10,000 teachers, to ease unemployment, during his campaigns in 2019. So, when is Wike engaging them? All his energy and resources are concentrated on building flyovers in Port Harcourt. Wike’s projects outside the Port Harcourt/Obio Akpor axis are insignificant.
While Wike is building flyovers in Port Harcourt, public hospitals, roads and public schools across the state continue to depreciate. What is going on in Rivers State is a misnomer. It’s a shame that 99.9 per cent of homes in this rich state have no access to something as basic as public water. I need to properly situate what constitutes growth. To attain development, projects must be inclusive and people-oriented. Government must touch the lives of the people directly with quality healthcare, housing, education, water supply and passable inner roads. Government must also provide opportunities, human capital development and social security. Unfortunately, Wike does not understand this and has decided to largely concentrate on splendor projects. This is why he is spending over N100 billion on flyovers.
In this same Rivers State, where flyovers will gulp about N100 billion, the state’s pensioners are struggling to survive due to huge unpaid annuities. In fact, payment of pension and gratuities stopped immediately Wike became governor. The pensioners said some of them had not received one kobo from the state government since 2015. That’s the situation in Wike’s Rivers State. It has been over seven years of pummeling hapless pensioners. This is man’s inhumanity to man. This garbage is happening in a state that has been spending billions of Naira on flyovers.
It is also depressing to note that Wike has also been erratic on payment of salaries and promotion arrears to civil servants. At a point, he ordered a junk biometric test, and deliberately created payment delays.
Last year, NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, had to lead a protest against Wike over unpaid annuities, saying, “This wicked act has become the living nightmare of senior citizens who are being punished for serving the state. These pensioners are dying in droves as a result of neglect.” The NLC has been heckling Wike for non-promotion of eligible civil servants; non-payment of arrears of salaries; non-payment of pension arrears, gratuities and death benefits; non-implementation of pension incremental rates and non-implementation of annual salary increment.
“Workers in the state now go about in black mourning robes and the children of retirees now protest naked in public. Those are all ominous signs,” declared the NLC.
When Wike was running for the presidential ticket of the PDP, the Rivers State NLC Chairman, Mrs Beatrice Itubo was quick to alert Nigerians to the incongruity of this governor: “We have seen what is happening here in Rivers State. Pensioners have not been paid their gratuity since the inception of this administration. Workers have not been promoted since the inception of this administration. Charity they say begins at home. Let him (Wike) come home and pay retirees their gratuities, pay pension arrears, promote workers and then employ more workers. The system is empty. It is not just to run from here and then you want to go to Abuja. There in Abuja, will you kill all the workers in Nigeria?”
It’s heartwarming that a coalition of human rights bodies called Civil Rights Council (CRC) has decided to challenge Wike’s boloney in Rivers State. The CRC pushed out a statement recently advising the Rivers governor to invest in human capital development and other economic activities that would create jobs opportunities in the state, instead of constructing more flyovers in Port Harcourt.
The CRC said: “With an unemployment rate of over 43 per cent and a rising youth population, it is expected that Rivers State Government would invest in human capital, especially of its youth population, create an enabling environment for jobs and support MSMEs, rather than strangle them.
“We consider the resources invested in them (flyovers) too massive and concentrated in a small location of the state in the face of rising poverty and poor standard of living of Rivers people. There are also capital budget provisions in the health and education sectors without funding, hence a perpetual recurring of these projects in the yearly budget provision of the state.”
It is pertinent to refresh Wike’s memory with a submission by Bill Gates, during a visit to Nigeria in 2018, on how to motivate development in this country. The Microsoft boss declared: “The most important choice Nigerian leaders can make is to maximise the country’s greatest resource, which is the people. Nigeria will thrive when every Nigerian is able to thrive. If you invest in their health, education, and opportunities – the human capital we are talking about today – then they will lay the foundation for sustained prosperity. If you don’t, however, then it is very important to recognise that there will be a sharp limit on how much the country can grow.”
Gates tried to redirect this country to the path of sustainable progress by urging our governments to spend more on human capital development instead of splendor projects. For Gates, the present economic templates in Nigeria lack the ability to address the unique needs of Nigerians.
Wike can’t be building stupendous flyovers, multi-lane roads in Port Harcourt while the masses of the people in Rivers lack access to basic things of life. Citizens of this state must be persistently blunt with ‘governor Port Harcourt” and demand for people-oriented projects. The oppressed masses of Rivers State must insist that Wike should do the needful.
Besides, if flyovers can end traffic jam, then, Lagos State, dotted with dozens of flyovers will be free from traffic jam. The reverse is the case in Lagos. Wike can’t claim to be unaware of this. His flyovers can’t end the traffic jam in Port Harcourt. This governor is not even thinking about how to complete the Port Harcourt monorail project started by his predecessor, Rotimi Amaechi, for which billions of Naira was committed.
Enough of ASUU’s Garbage
Last Tuesday, the National Executive Council of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) announced a four-week extension of the ongoing strike in public universities. It declared: “Following extensive deliberations and taking cognisance of government’s past failures to abide by its own timelines in addressing issues raised in the 2020 FGN/ ASUU Memorandum of Action (MoA), NEC resolved that the strike be rolled over for four weeks to supply Government more time to satisfactorily resolve all the outstanding issues.”
That was the bad news from ASUU. For me, whatever the university lecturers are fighting for (no matter how good) resulting in this current six-month old strike, it amounts to nonsense, if the interest of students is not paramount. It should ultimately be about the students. This is what these teachers have failed to recognise. They are permanently on strike, leaving the students they are engaged to teach in tatters and quandary. A four-year course is turned into six years by these unending strikes. Some students will never return after the strike. So, persisting with this current strike is unjustifiable.
Yes, protesting against the federal government’s refusal to fulfill its agreements with the union since 2009 is fair. Yes, the demand for revitalization funds for public universities, promotion arrears, improved salaries and earned academic allowances is just. But the demand can continue without these endless strikes. ASUU members are earning salaries to teach students, So, they must teach. I am not sorry to say that ASUU members care less about the disruption of the future of our youths through the interruption of their academic life because most of them don’t have their children in these public universities.
Then, there is this demand for the deployment of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution by the government for payment of university lecturers. ASUU must look for another tool for this selfish part of their agitations. These guys want to dictate to their employers how to pay them. I don’t know where that is done anywhere in the world. They are telling the government to throw away its platform and pay them with another platform. Their colleagues in the private universities must be shocked.
ASUU members are also demanding for withheld salaries during previous strikes. Haba! The no-work no-pay labour law is very clear as contained in Section 43 of trade Dispute Act. These university teachers are experienced enough to know that strikes come with implications.
Now, to the way forward. University autonomy must happen for all this endless drivel called “ASUU strike” to end. Public universities must exercise independent control over their day-to-day operations. Administratively, they should constitute their governing councils. Federal and state governments must hands off these public universities so that they can be managed as non-profit businesses. They should no longer be funded from budgets. This is the meaning of autonomy. With this, the governing councils will be able to act clearly as defined i.e. the ultimate power. The governing councils will appoint the vice chancellors and other management staff. The employers of the academic and non-academic staff will be the governing councils and they will remunerate according to their abilities.
With autonomy, the universities will also charge fees that will enable them cover expenses and a little bit more for further development. This will end their funding crisis. Government can then provide scholarships and student loans. Autonomy also means public universities will be able to attract reasonable endowments. Donors are more comfortable with universities enjoying autonomy. There will be no bureaucratic bottlenecks. Endowments provide important financial stability for universities in sound climes.
Autonomy implies operative freedom. It implies academic and managerial freedom which should result in higher quality of education and academic excellence. I’m happy that ASUU is not against autonomy for universities. So, the federal and state governments must do the needful. This is the only way forward for our public universities and all other public higher institutions of learning.
FARGO — Can you think of a place where art shouldn’t exist?
We sure can’t, and neither can The Arts Partnership’s 2022-23 board members. While all of them are well-established community leaders fostering growth in sectors like technology, finance, education and health care, they’re also fierce advocates of the local arts community. They believe art has a place everywhere.
As TAP board members, they’re bringing the arts to conference rooms, Zoom rooms and break rooms across the region’s corporate landscape.
Their work is also allowing us to fulfill our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. By advocating at a leadership level across the region, they help us broaden our reach, which means we get to bring more art to more people in more places than ever before.
Get to know TAP’s current board members, learn about their day jobs and why they believe in the transformative power of local art.
Choice Bank and TAP board chair
Szudera, Choice Bank’s creative director, believes a pop of local art is a powerful way to create employee engagement and a greater sense of work satisfaction. Szudera led efforts to bring The Arts Partnership’s ArtWORKS program to four Choice Bank locations. ArtWORKS brings rotating art exhibits, music concerts and performance art by local artists to participating businesses. She’s been a TAP board member since 2018.
“What is often misunderstood is how deep the connections TAP are in our community and that by being a resource for every artist and arts nonprofit influences our community,” Szudera said. “Our board members understand art, artists and arts nonprofits are transforming in a COVID recovery world and we’re ready to support that journey.”
Microsoft and TAP board vice chair
Thompson is a release manager for Microsoft, where she makes processes and tools work better for employees, clients and stakeholders. She’s served on TAP’s communications committee since October 2016 and is an enthusiastic supporter of all the programs and opportunities that happen with TAP.
Thompson is particularly enthusiastic about TAP’s Community Supported Art program , for which she’s been a shareholder since its inception several years ago.
Microsoft (retired) and TAP treasurer
Leeaphon grew up in Tokyo, lived in Vancouver and Montreal and has lived in Fargo ever since taking a job at Microsoft, where he worked until retiring earlier this year. As someone who’s seen the world and experienced the enormity of the human experience across the globe, Leeaphon considers local art to be a powerful way of creating immediate engagement in a new community.
“These are challenging times and yet this is when we all crave art, and particularly local art. Perhaps as we touch, see and hear local art we express for ourselves our shared humanity and thus our sense of community,” Leeaphon said. “By serving on the TAP board, I hope to support the vital role local art and artists have in our community.”
Sanford Health and TAP secretary
Seiler is a lead marketing specialist at Sanford Health, a fine art photographer and longtime TAP board member and board member for the FM Visual Artists and Gallery 4, where he is also a premier artist member.
“The Arts Partnership constantly works for the promotion of artists and arts organizations in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo. For me, it’s important to share the impact local art has upon all of us, which is why I find it rewarding to be on the board of The Arts Partnership,” Seiler said.
U.S. Attorney’s Office, Fargo School Board and TAP board member
Burkland is an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and a member of the Fargo School Board. Burkland chose to serve on TAP’s board in order to focus on accessibility and inclusion in the arts.
“I believe arts are integral to a community,” she said. “TAP's mission and its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion are inspiring to me and I want to promote TAP's programs and artists as much as I can.”
Artist, Aggregate Industries and TAP board member
Johnson is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. She serves as the interim executive director for The Indigenous Association, is a tandem truck driver for Aggregate Industries, is board chair of the nonprofit The Human Family and is a former member of the city of Fargo's Native American Commission. As an artist and partner of The Arts Partnership, she wants to better connect to a broader and more diverse base of artists, makers and culture-bearers.
“I’m happy that I get to work with the art community in a more meaningful way and I hope that as an organization and as an arts community we can bring more diversity to the forefront and show how many cultures and people we have here in Fargo,” Johnson said. “I hope we can grow together to bring a change in the way we look at art, because art can change the world.”
NDSU and TAP board member
McGeorge is a professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science at North Dakota State University. As someone with training in play therapy, she has witnessed firsthand the healing power that creating art (in all of its many forms) can have on individuals, relationships and families.
“As a TAP board member, I’m eager to explore how to increase access to arts for marginalized and underserved communities,” McGeorge said.
Marvin and TAP board member
Reisch is a community relations manager for Marvin and new to the TAP board in 2022. Her interest comes from an appreciation of art and the energy it brings into community and corporate spaces. Reisch brings ArtWORKS to two Marvin locations.
“At Marvin, we believe our purpose is to imagine and create better ways of living,” Reisch said. “And in my personal opinion, the power of art is its ability to Excellerate the lives of people as well as build and strengthen a community's culture.”
NDSU and TAP board member
Schuh is the director for special initiatives for NDSU's agricultural affairs division and a new TAP board member. She is an academic researcher and administrator who has a long history of engagement with the nonprofit, start-up and business community.
“As a lifelong North Dakotan, the Fargo-Moorhead community is close to my heart. I feel that art adds vibrancy to all our lives and makes our area a place where people want to work, learn and build their lives,” Schuh said.
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and TAP board member
Thurmer is an assistant professor of Student Affairs Leadership and Administration at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. As someone who has dyslexia, she’s drawn to the performing arts and has been since a young age because it helped her find confidence and competence through artistic expression when school was challenging. Thurmer has also benefited from grant-funded arts programs that allowed her to take part in arts activities her family could not have afforded otherwise.
“I think this generation's task is moving from access to equity, and even on the days when I am not sure what that looks like or means, I find TAP is a wonderful place to explore and start the work,” Thurmer said.
M State and TAP board member
Weber is currently the dean for the School of Business and Information Technology at Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Moorhead. She has been involved with music her whole life, playing piano in church, directing choirs, singing and playing in a band during college, and many other activities.
“As a TAP board member, I intend to connect business and the arts in our communities and look forward to doing whatever I can to promote and support the arts in our area,” Weber said.
Lonna Whiting is a freelance writer and owner of lonna.co, a content marketing and communications agency located in Fargo, North Dakota. She is a frequent contributor to The Arts Partnership’s content library and also provides strategic communications consultation to the organization. This article is part of a content partnership with The Arts Partnership, a nonprofit organization cultivating the arts in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo. For more information, visit theartspartnership.net.
Americans trust small businesses more than any other institution — including the military, the police and the medical system.
Sixty-eight percent said they had a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in small businesses, experiencing only a slight dip from 70% the previous year, according to a new survey from Gallup.
But most Americans don’t really have a handle on what defines a small business, and romanticize small businesses as part of the American dream, explained experts.
The Small Business Administration generally defines small businesses as those that have less than 1,500 employees and pull in less than $41.5 million in revenue a year. However, when the average person is thinking of a “small business,” they likely have mom-and-pop shops in mind, said Cindy D. Kam, a political science professor at Vanderbilt University who specializes in political psychology, public opinion and political participation. (Gallup did not define “small business” for its respondents.)
Small businesses are part of the American dream and the country’s capitalist ideology, said Samara Klar, an associate professor at the University of Arizona School of Government and Public Policy.
If you head to many political campaign pages, you’ll find that candidates identify as small business owners. It’s one of the only institutions that hasn’t been politicized, and garners support from both Republicans and Democrats, Klar pointed out.
“So there’s no question they’re one of the more revered identities that we have in American politics. And [they’re] something that people really root for,” she explained.
“Small businesses are so heterogeneous, I think it’s quite difficult to extract a stereotype of them, except for this idea that they are local mom-and-pops,” Kam said.
And that stereotype masks the possibility that businesses classified as “small” can be larger than we expect, still pull in millions of dollars a year, commit fraud or sell dubious products — just like any other business.
“There’s still this romanticized view of how commerce should operate that I think provides a foundation for people to trust small businesses,” Kam said.
When small business is covered in the news, the press is generally positive, Kam said, pointing to the formation of movements like “buy local.” Yet when there are negative stories about small businesses, because they’re seen as individuals, the category as a whole does not “get sullied,” Kam said.
If small businesses benefit from “a romanticized, very Americana view,” and are perceived as “the heart and soul of the American economy,” then big businesses are viewed as the opposite, Kam said.
“They are the robber barons, the railroad empires, the monopolists, the guys on top — usually these are men — who are taking advantage of the little guy,” she said. “So in that sense, the whole stereotype and vision of what big business is almost runs against the romanticized notions of the American dream.”
In the mid-19th century, nearly all businesses were small, explained Naomi R. Lamoreaux, an economics and history professor at Yale University and a senior research scholar at the University of Michigan Law School.
But with the growing development of railroads and large-scale manufacturing organizations, the term “small business” gets defined in opposition to these entities.
“Since those had such negative associations in people’s minds, small business is always a positive,” she said. “It’s what you’re protecting from these monsters, like Standard Oil.” The public had a hostile reaction to Standard Oil based on the idea that the company pushed legitimate businesses into bankruptcy or used unfair means to acquire smaller businesses, Lamoreaux explained.
There have been points in history where the public got accustomed to the dominance of large firms, like the big three automakers in the 20th century, Lamoreaux said. After World War II, companies known as “center firms” — which were the largest companies in the most important industries — were able to offer higher wages and better benefits to workers, she added.
“Then the economy got more competitive again in the late 20th century. And as the economy got more competitive, then some new giants emerged,” Lamoreaux said.
Correction (July 22, 2022): A previous version of this story misstated what types of companies were able to offer workers higher wages following World War II.
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At the center of the impasse was Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.). A moderate swing vote and longtime budget hawk, Manchin had said the week before that he could support investments to tackle global warming, just not in the way Democrats had proposed them, and not while prices nationally were soaring. Instead, he wanted his party to wait — but Democratic leaders felt they were running out of time.
At the White House, President Biden already had issued an ultimatum, telling members of Congress he would fire off new executive orders if they did not pass a law. In the Capitol, meanwhile, Democrats began to confront Manchin directly: Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.), for one, approached him during a vote on the Senate floor, brandishing a list of exact deadly climate catastrophes that warranted Manchin’s attention.
Little did many Democrats know, however, Manchin was already back at the table — in another round of fierce discussions with Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). Soon, the steady mix of public pressure, private pleading and persistent negotiation would lead the two men to produce what once seemed unthinkable: a deal on the largest burst of climate-related spending in U.S. history that took nearly all of Washington by surprise.
The story of that breakthrough is one of intense talks and high emotions over a period of about two weeks, according to more than two dozen people familiar with the matter, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a process so secretive that few knew about it at the time. The journey spanned basement backrooms of the Capitol, countless hours of phone calls — and a virtual handshake that clinched the arrangement over Zoom, since the coronavirus had trapped Manchin at home.
For Schumer, the party’s chief negotiator, a key to assuaging Manchin’s concerns were policy sweeteners that boosted fossil fuels and coal-heavy West Virginia. But Manchin also spoke with a wide array of others — fellow Democrats, economists including Larry Summers, even executives like Bill Gates. They each delivered some version of the same message: If Democrats did not seize on a rare opportunity to combat climate change, the U.S. may never have another chance at it again.
Republicans, who opposed spending to address global warming, initially thought they had scored a political victory: Last weekend, a group that included conservatives, industry officials and a top outside adviser to President Donald Trump even held a call with Manchin, during which several praised him for scuttling the package.
Ultimately, though, Manchin came to agree with his own party, satisfied that Democrats’ plans would not harm the economy. Explaining his decision, Manchin maintained at a news conference Thursday he never actually wavered in his engagement, even once “the dogs came after me.” Schumer, for his part, seized on the magnitude of the moment, having finalized an agreement that had eluded Democrats for about a year.
“You’re going to change the country for the better,” he told Manchin in the hours before they released the bill late Wednesday afternoon. “This is going to be historic for the country.”
Manchin and Schumer each declined interviews through their spokespeople. Senate Democrats hope to begin debating the bill as soon as next week.
If it is adopted, the so-called Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 would see nearly $370 billion in new climate and energy-related investments, aiming to foster new technology, cut back on emissions and satisfy Manchin’s demand that the U.S. maintain support for fossil fuels.
It includes new and extended tax credits for solar, wind and other renewable energy, and more than $80 billion in rebates for home improvements and electric vehicles. It also sets aside $1.5 billion to curtail harmful methane emissions. And at Manchin’s insistence, it mandates new oil and gas leasing in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Alaska.
The bill’s authors say it will reduce emissions by 40 percent by 2030. That’s less than Democrats sought last year, when the House adopted roughly $555 billion in climate-related spending as part of the plan known as the Build Back Better Act. That proposal, named after Biden’s campaign slogan, proposed major overhauls to federal health care, immigration, education and tax laws. But Manchin in December essentially killed the bill, saying he could not cast his must-have vote for its roughly $2 trillion price tag.
More than seven months later, Schumer and Manchin had resumed talks, but found themselves barreling toward the same disappointment — even as Democrats attempted to rethink their agenda in a smaller form. Despite consistent, productive discussions, Manchin informed Schumer on July 14 that he still could not support his own party’s efforts to advance a sprawling proposal so quickly.
For Manchin, the primary concern was inflation. He withdrew his support after a government report showed the prices of gas, groceries and other goods had spiked by 9.1 percent in June, describing the development publicly as a “serious concern.” Privately, the senator sounded even more dire alarms — telling a group of energy executives and other supporters at a Washington fundraiser, for example, that he could not support anything that worsened the economy.
In particular, Manchin took issue with the tax increases Democrats had proposed to pay for their new spending, including the investments on climate. While the senator himself had endorsed some of the revenue-raising ideas, including one proposal to raise more money and Excellerate the solvency of Medicare, Manchin said the sum total of tax hikes threatened to exacerbate inflation.
“Can’t we wait to make sure we do nothing to add to that? And I can’t make that decision on basically taxes of any type and also on energy and climate,” Manchin said during an interview on MetroNews TalkLine, a West Virginia radio show, a day later. “But I’m not going to do something, and overreach, that causes more problems.”
Manchin’s stance stunned Democrats. For weeks, many thought they were close to finishing a climate deal; aides on the Senate’s top environment-focused committee, led by Carper, had even started drafting press materials announcing a breakthrough with Manchin when the news arrived.
But the senator’s sudden skepticism posed a new, insurmountable challenge, since no bill could advance over GOP objections in the narrowly divided Senate without Manchin’s vote. Instead, he essentially offered his party a choice: They could wait for the release of new inflation numbers in August and try again, or they could further whittle down their bill to focus exclusively on health care costs and adopt it now.
Democrats did not want to squander their final opportunity to fulfill the pledges they had made to voters ahead of the 2022 election, so Schumer began work on a smaller measure — one focused on lowering prescription drug prices and insurance premiums. Biden endorsed the approach in a statement on July 15 that omitted any mention of Manchin, stressing: “The Senate should move forward, pass it before the August recess, and get it to my desk so I can sign it.”
But some in the party, long frustrated by inaction on climate change, embarked on a pressure campaign targeting Manchin anyway. A wide array of Democrats including Sens. Carper and Christopher A. Coons of Delaware, Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, John Hickenlooper of Colorado, Tina Smith of Minnesota, and Ron Wyden of Oregon each worked with their aides to canvass environmental groups, energy companies and economists who might have be able to change Manchin’s mind.
Some Democrats enlisted the likes of Summers, a former treasury secretary who had been warning about inflation for a year, to make the case to Manchin that climate spending would not imperil the economy. Others targeted Gates, the former Microsoft chief executive who has a number of clean-energy investments. He eventually rang the West Virginia senator to make the case for climate investments; his office declined to comment.
Hickenlooper, meanwhile, turned to top executives from PG&E, DuPont and other firms. “They were kind of mopey,” the senator recalled in an interview, though he urged them to call Schumer and Manchin and encourage them to keep pursuing a deal. “You can sit on your hands, or be useful,” Hickenlooper said.
A few tried more personal outreach. Only weeks earlier, Coons had huddled with Manchin on a trip to Brussels and Switzerland, discussing policy during hours of conversation. So Coons broached the subject of the fast-warming planet on Monday, July 18, making a direct plea to Manchin during a closed-door meeting in the Hart Senate Office Building.
“There are folks in our party who are saying all sorts of terrible things about you, who believe you were stringing us along for a year and that you were never going to come to a deal because of your state or because of your conflicts of interest,” a source recalled Coons saying. The comment appeared to reference long-standing concerns about Manchin’s ties to the coal industry.
Coons then told Manchin: “I can’t think of a better way for you to prove them all wrong than to sign off on a bold climate deal. Prove every critic wrong.”
Manchin thought for a second, the source said, then responded, “It would be like hitting a homer in the bottom of the ninth, wouldn’t it?”
Quietly, Manchin that very day seemed to be angling for a deal. The senator’s staff in the morning had approached Schumer’s aides, offering a new counterproposal: Democrats could try to pass a bill in August, including money for climate change.
The entreaty set the stage for a hushed meeting between the two lawmakers that afternoon in the labyrinthine basement of the Capitol, in a conference room Schumer did not even realize at first was his. They left with a handshake agreement to at least try again before the August recess. Recalling it later, Manchin told reporters his message to the majority leader was that he hadn’t “walked away,” adding: “This is ridiculous. We can recalibrate, see if something can be done.”
“He said, ‘Can we work together and try to put together a bill?’ And I said, ‘As long as we finish in August,’” Schumer later told reporters.
Seemingly no one — not even top Democrats — knew about the extent of the encounter. Many party lawmakers arrived at the Capitol on Tuesday, July 19, steaming as global headlines raised urgent new alarms about heat waves. Carper brought his list of climate catastrophes to Manchin on the Senate floor, then into a Democrats-only lunch, where he urged members of his party not to supply up.
“I went down and listed about a dozen situations around the world, of what’s going on in England, what’s going on with Antarctica … countries where lakes are drying up, they don’t have water to feed livestock,” Carper said. “I gave it to him on the floor.”
Similarly unnerved, the White House had started eyeing action it could take without Congress to address climate change, seeking to make good on Biden’s threat. Privately, aides began exploring whether to declare a national climate emergency, a directive that could have opened the door for the administration to pursue new regulations or redirect funding in response to rising emissions.
Biden ultimately did not issue the policy when he delivered a major climate address in Somerset, Mass., the following day, instead announcing action to combat extreme heat. Congressional aides later said they learned the administration had backed away from the emergency, partly out of fear it could upset the already delicate negotiations over a spending package — even one narrowly focused on health care.
Piece by piece, Schumer and Manchin continued to cobble together a potential agreement into last weekend, even when the West Virginia senator contracted covid, which threatened to keep him out of the Capitol for days. Unaware of the progress, Republicans in Washington appeared to take a premature victory lap.
That Sunday, July 24, Manchin dialed into a conference call joined by Stephen Moore, an economic adviser to Trump, and about a dozen conservative economists, media figures and business leaders. They profusely thanked Manchin “for saving the country” by resisting Democrats’ plans, Moore later recalled to The Washington Post. Manchin told the group he supported one of Democrats’ tax plans, a proposal to impose a rate on businesses that pay nothing to the government. But he also criticized Democrats’ spending ambitions — leaving conservatives convinced that Manchin remained opposed to acting.
In reality, Manchin was warming up to a compromise, and by late this Tuesday, he and Schumer had in hand an economic analysis of their still-forming deal. That analysis showed it could raise more than $739 billion over the next decade — enough to offset the costs and reduce the deficit by about $300 billion. For months, Manchin had demanded that any spending package contribute meaningfully toward improving the country’s fiscal health.
By Wednesday afternoon, now bonding over their shared, exact covid diagnoses, the two men clinched their deal and set about briefing Democratic leaders and the White House — during which Biden thanked Manchin over the phone for seeing it through. Schumer and Manchin then publicly revealed it to the shock of Washington, hailing their progress in a joint statement “after years of many in Washington promising, but failing to deliver.”
The breakthrough arrived about two weeks after Democrats thought their climate aspirations were doomed — and exactly a year to the day that Schumer tried to work out with Manchin a framework for a smaller spending package. That endeavor, enshrined in a document eventually made public, previously earned derision from Schumer’s own caucus; now, Democrats on Capitol Hill were ready to rejoice.
“I’m like, holy s---, this is fantastic,” said Smith, adding that she learned about the deal when Schumer called her while the Minnesota senator was presiding on the Senate floor. “There was a small group of people working hard to keep the door open, specifically to address the concerns Senator Manchin had around inflation.”
The news came as an even greater surprise to Republicans, who that day were huddling with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) to plan how they could further stymie Democrats’ agenda. Aides, operatives and lawmakers discussed ways to force uncomfortable votes on a key element of Democrats’ plans, an attempt to lower prescription drug costs, that might win the support of another Democratic moderate, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.).
Adding to the sting, Manchin and Schumer announced the agreement hours after the Senate voted to adopt a second, unrelated bill provisioning more than $50 billion for semiconductors. McConnell previously had threatened that measure, suggesting Republicans could obstruct it if Democrats moved forward with their spending ambitions. The GOP leader’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
“It caught everybody by surprise. And the fact Manchin was gone with covid took it off everyone’s radar screen. Wherever he walks in the hallways, he’s answering questions constantly,” said Doug Heye, a GOP strategist. “There was a bit of out of sight, out of mind.”
Some at the White House were kept in the dark, too. “The White House staff were in the same position almost everyone in D.C. was: Complete surprise and a level of delight about an unexpected win. They’d resigned themselves to a loss,” said one outside adviser, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations with senior administration officials.
Instead, a jubilant Schumer on Thursday took to the podium in the Senate studio: “For years, decades even, many in Washington have promised to address the biggest challenges facing the nation only to fail to deliver,” he said.
Manchin, meanwhile, explained his decision Thursday by noting that Democrats had satisfied his primary concerns: They had devised a package that protected fossil fuels, promoted energy independence and added or preserved key provisions that benefit coal-heavy West Virginia.
At least one of the tax credits for electric vehicles hinges on domestic production requirements that some observers in Congress and elsewhere believe may benefit firms in Manchin’s home state. Another program that pays power providers for clean-energy production appears to be most generous when it comes to hydrogen and carbon-capture technology, according to experts, two advancements Manchin long has supported.
And Schumer worked out an agreement with Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Manchin that would see Congress vote in the coming months on rules that ease federal permitting rules for pipelines and other infrastructure in the coming months. Many of the details have not yet been made public, though climate hawks on Capitol Hill generally praised the final result.
“I think it’s an A-,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), another member who had been in contact with Manchin over the past two weeks. “There’s no doubt this is the biggest climate action the federal government has ever taken. … But let’s be clear: We made a deal with Joe Manchin, and what that means is that he got a few things we wouldn’t agree to under other circumstances.”
Schumer, for his part, acknowledged to reporters that he personally would have “never put these provisions in the bill,” adding that Democrats needed “50 votes.”
“Part of Manchin’s brand is meeting and talking with everyone throughout the ideological spectrum; he’s been doing that even when nothing was going on,” said Steve Clemons, a friend of Manchin’s for more than a decade. “I am unaware that anyone substantially moved him; he has been consistent with what he wanted to do the whole time, and he got what he’d been asking for.”
Initially, Manchin had said he wanted to see another round of inflation figures before he supported new climate spending and tax increases. But reams of data furnished to him — including nonpublic sources of information, provided by the Penn Wharton Budget Model — left him confident that “I’m not adding to inflation,” the senator said Thursday.
Democrats also agreed to remove some of their more aggressive plans to impose new taxes that target millionaires at home and companies that take advantage of foreign tax havens. They preserved a proposal that would impose a minimum tax on corporations that currently pay no taxes while empowering the Internal Revenue Service to pursue tax cheats.
Schumer quickly set about selling the measure to Democrats, who must stay united if they hope to overcome a GOP filibuster. Some have yet to react publicly — including Sinema, who has also raised concerns about tax increases. But Schumer on Thursday did not express concern, telling reporters that “members are reviewing the text … and we expect to move forward next week.”
Manchin, though, stressed the agreement showed that he had never left the table. “No one in the right mind would go through all the protests, harassments, if you will, after the Build Back Better [Act] was defeated,” he said at a news conference over Zoom on Thursday.
“I didn’t walk away,” Manchin said. “I just told them, I can’t do what we’ve been doing at that level.”
Maxine Joselow and Tyler Pager contributed to this report.
Scale AI, the data infrastructure for AI, was ranked number 22 on the Forbes 2022 Cloud 100, the definitive ranking of the top 100 private cloud companies in the world, published by Forbes in partnership with Bessemer Venture Partners and Salesforce Ventures.
"It's an honor to be included on the Forbes Cloud 100 for the second year in a row among such incredible companies," said Scale CEO and founder Alexandr Wang. "Enterprises work with us to enable themselves to think bigger—about how they can use AI and data to accomplish more. Across autonomous vehicles, next-gen defense tech, and consumer internet, we're working on a meaningful cross-section of the most important technologies for the next 20 years of humanity."
For the seventh straight year, the Cloud 100 reviews submissions from hundreds of cloud startups and private companies each year. The Cloud 100 evaluation process involved ranking companies across four factors: market leadership (35%), estimated valuation (30%), operating metrics (20%), and people & culture (15%). For market leadership, the Cloud 100 enlists the help of a judging panel of public cloud company CEOs who assist in evaluating and ranking their private company peers.
"The companies of the Cloud 100 list represent the best and brightest private companies in this fast-growing sector," said Alex Konrad, senior editor at Forbes. "Every year, it gets more difficult to make this list — meaning even more elite company for those who do. Congratulations to each of the 2022 Cloud 100 honorees."
"The public markets may be in turmoil, but the private valuations of the Cloud 100 continue to rise. All of the 2022 Cloud 100 honorees, again, have reached the $1 billion valuation milestone, and the average Cloud 100 valuation has skyrocketed to $7.4 billion," said Mary D'Onofrio, partner at Bessemer Venture Partners. "Despite the market correction in 2022, our confidence in the cloud economy continues to grow—today over 70% of the 2022 Cloud 100 Honorees have reached or exceeded $100 million in annual recurring revenue making them cloud Centaurs. An additional 10% of the list is expected to hit this milestone by the end of the year, furthering our conviction that this years' honorees truly represent the best cloud companies globally."
"Great companies are born out of all environments, and it's exciting to see the continued momentum in the cloud sector," said Alex Kayyal, Managing Partner, Salesforce Ventures. "The companies on this list have gone through a rigorous selection process, and join an esteemed alumni list of Cloud 100 companies. As the need for digital transformation continues to drive innovation and efficiencies across industries, we can look to these companies as the absolute best in cloud computing."
The Forbes 2022 Cloud 100 and 20 Rising Stars lists are published online at www.forbes.com/cloud100. Highlights of the list appear in the August/September 2022 issue of Forbes magazine.
This year, the CEOs of The Cloud 100 and the 20 Rising Stars companies will be honored with a digital content launch, as well as at the exclusive Cloud 100 Celebration hosted by Bessemer Venture Partners, Salesforce Ventures, and Forbes. A special thank you to our event sponsors Amazon Web Services (AWS), Bank of America, Cooley, Fuel a McKinsey Company, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Nasdaq, and Silicon Valley Bank.
Bessemer Venture Partners
Bessemer Venture Partners helps entrepreneurs lay strong foundations to build and forge long-standing companies. With more than 135 IPOs and 200 portfolio companies in the enterprise, consumer and healthcare spaces, Bessemer supports founders and CEOs from their early days through every stage of growth. Bessemer's global portfolio includes Pinterest, Shopify, Twilio, Yelp, LinkedIn, PagerDuty, DocuSign, Wix, Fiverr and Toast and has $19 billion of regulatory assets under management. Bessemer has teams of investors and partners located in Tel Aviv, Silicon Valley, San Francisco, New York, London, Boston, Beijing and Bangalore. Born from innovations in steel more than a century ago, Bessemer's storied history has afforded its partners the opportunity to celebrate and scrutinize its best investment decisions (see Memos) and also learn from its mistakes (see Anti-Portfolio).
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About Scale AI
Scale accelerates AI development by providing the data infrastructure for AI. Its data-centric platform manages the entire ML lifecycle, from data annotation and curation to model testing and evaluation, enabling any organization – from the world's most advanced AI teams to legacy organizations – to develop and deploy impactful AI solutions. Scale combines ML technology with skilled human insight to ensure every AI application is built on a foundation of high-quality ground truth data. The market leader in the autonomous vehicle industry, Scale is trusted by the largest technology companies in the world, including Microsoft, Toyota, GM, Nuro, Samsung, Square, PayPal, SAP, Instacart, Pinterest, Brex, Flexport and U.S. government agencies like the U.S. Army and Air Force. Scale was founded in 2016 and is valued at $7.3 billion, backed by Founders Fund, Accel, Index, and Tiger Global.
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Mayor Adams anointed himself the city’s first hip hop mayor Wednesday when he unveiled $5.5 million in additional city funding for the construction of the Universal Hip Hop Museum, which is expected to open two years from now in the South Bronx.
Flanked by a who’s who of rap royalty, Hizzoner reflected on the number of Black elected officials holding power now at the city, state and federal levels — and credited part of that success to hip hop’s now-broad cultural influence.
“All of this chocolate — we better do something with it. You know what I’m saying?” he said. “We can do this. And so this museum is our Trojan horse. We just wanted to get on the inside. We’re on the inside now.”
Adams, a former NYPD captain, has been critical of the subgenre of hip hop known as drill rap in exact weeks, but he clearly reveled in praising hip hop more broadly on Wednesday.
The latest round of capital money from his administration and the City Council comes in addition to the $19.8 million the city has already put towards the museum’s construction. The museum has received $16 million from the state, as well as money from private businesses like Microsoft and the Warner Music Group, said Rocky Bucano, executive director. The space will occupy the bottom two floors of the new Exterior St. building, which is expected to offer 20 additional floors of housing as well.
Mayor Eric Adams and NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) Commissioner Laurie Cumbo announce a total of $5.5 million — $2 million of which was contributed by Mayor Adams — in new capital funding for the Universal Hip Hop Museum to fit out its future 52,000-square-foot home at the Bronx Point development at Mill Pond Park. 610 Exterior Street, Bronx. Wednesday, August 3, 2022. (ED REED/)
“This has been a labor of love. I was a teenage DJ when hip hop was first starting,” Bucano told the Daily News. “It’s just rewarding to know hip hop will have its own space to preserve, document and celebrate all that history.”
Adams stressed that history and the city’s political history are intertwined as well.
“Don’t disconnect this moment. First time in New York City history — we have a hip hop mayor,” Adams declared, flashing his signature broad grin. “Dyslexic, arrested, rejected — now I’m elected.”
He also couldn’t help but quip about how it would have been inappropriate for former Mayor Bill de Blasio to be helming the city as the museum takes on its more defined form. Right now, the Universal Hip Hop Museum is housed in a temporary location at the nearby Bronx Terminal Market.
“I’m proud to be the mayor at this time,” Adams said. “Thank God Bill de Blasio didn’t open this museum, you know? And no hit on him, but this is my museum that I should be opening.”
Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson made sure to note the exact date and location of where hip hop started — in her home borough on August 11, 1973 at 1520 Sedgwick Ave. — where DJ Kool Herc first showcased break beats and an early form of MC’ing.
With the 50th anniversary of hip hop’s birth just one year away, the museum’s grand opening in 2024 is widely anticipated and is expected to be a major draw to the borough — even though it will occur one year after the big anniversary.
During the topping off ceremony to the Universal Hip Hop Museum Wednesday, May 25, 2022 in The Bronx, New York. (Barry Williams/)
“I cannot wait to be here for the ribbon cutting. It’s going to be the biggest thing you have ever seen in New York City,” said Adams’ Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo. “Did you see how people waited on line around the corners for a Bigge Smalls MetroCard? Wait till this museum opens.”
Pioneering rap producer and founder of Def Jam Recordings Russell Simmons said he hopes the museum will supply people a clearer picture of hip hop’s early history — and not just retell the already well-known stories of its stars.
Universal Hip Hop Museum executive director Rocky Bucano, Nas, LL Cool J, and Fat Joe attend the Universal Hip Hop Museum Groundbreaking Ceremony at Bronx Point on May 20, 2021 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Dia Dipasupil/)
“We all know the billionaires. We know Kanye and will certainly celebrate Kanye and Drake and all the big success stories,” he said. “But we forget many of the artists. And I’m most concerned with the artists, who before there were recorded records, they were performing artists. And those great performing artists started in Harlem and the Bronx ... I want to see them celebrated and compensated.”