The Week in Business: Biden Gets Down to Business
All eyes are on President Biden right now. Here’s how his new policies will affect companies and households struggling to weather the pandemic economy — plus more of the week’s top business and tech news. Stay safe, everyone. — Charlotte Cowles
What’s Up? (Jan. 17-23)
Not a Moment to Lose
President Joseph R. Biden Jr. began his first days in office by signing a flurry of executive orders to bolster the flagging economy and help those worst hit. He directed his administration to speed up the delivery of stimulus checks to the millions of eligible Americans who still haven’t gotten them, increase the weekly value of food stamps by up to 20 percent and raise the minimum wage of federal workers to $15 an hour. A day earlier, he moved to prolong the existing federal ban on evictions to the end of March at the earliest (it was previously set to expire this month), along with the moratorium on foreclosures on federally guaranteed mortgages. He is also extending the freeze on federal student loan payments to the end of September.
The social networking app Parler, which had become a hub for right-wing conspiracy theorists, won’t be back online anytime soon. A federal judge ruled against Parler’s lawsuit to force Amazon to restore the app’s platform this past week, stating it was not in the public interest. Amazon previously supplied Parler’s cloud computing services (as it does for many companies), but revoked them after Parler was used to coordinate the pro-Trump riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Parler accused Amazon of colluding with Twitter to drive it offline, but could not provide sufficient evidence. The judge also stated that until Parler instituted a better system to moderate “abusive, violent content,” the court would not compel Amazon to host it.
Netflix Sees Green
Regardless of your thoughts on “Bridgerton,” we can all agree that Netflix has been a pandemic staple. And the company’s bottom line is finally reflecting its success. For years, Netflix has relied on borrowed cash to cover the enormous operating costs of churning out huge volumes of content to feed our couch-bound brains. But no longer: The company announced this past week that it would not need to borrow any more money to sustain itself. It’s a major shift for Netflix, and a thumb in the eye to its skeptics who predicted that the company would never break even.
What’s Next? (Jan. 24-30)
Cleaning Up the Workplace
Another item on Mr. Biden’s agenda: creating new coronavirus protections in the workplace. The president has ordered the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to come up with new, stricter guidance for employers to protect their workers from catching or spreading the virus while on the job. Mr. Biden’s order will establish national standards and give OSHA the power to enforce them. This is a big change from the Trump administration’s stance, which chose to leave virus precautions up to employers. Additionally, Mr. Biden plans to allow workers to receive unemployment benefits if they quit jobs that do not follow pandemic protocols, stating “that workers have a federally guaranteed right to refuse employment that will jeopardize their health.”
Capitol Riot Fallout
From Riot to Impeachment
The riot inside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, followed a rally at which President Trump made an inflammatory speech to his supporters, questioning the results of the election. Here’s a look at what happened and the ongoing fallout:
- As this video shows, poor planning and a restive crowd encouraged by President Trump set the stage for the riot.
- A two hour period was crucial to turning the rally into the riot.
- Several Trump administration officials, including cabinet members Betsy DeVos and Elaine Chao, announced that they were stepping down as a result of the riot.
- Federal prosecutors have charged more than 70 people, including some who appeared in viral photos and videos of the riot. Officials expect to eventually charge hundreds of others.
- The House voted to impeach the president on charges of “inciting an insurrection” that led to the rampage by his supporters.
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