Lydia DePillis Profile picture
Nov 5, 2021 67 tweets 35 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
It's past 5pm on a Friday, so I've cracked a beer and started reading the reconciliation bill. It starts with the U.S. Forest Service, and I already like this thing… Image
Substantial civil penalties for unfair labor practices! That would be a game changer. Image
Expected stuff about child care, elder care, workforce development ... and I guess here's the climate conservation corps at $6.9b, lower than the $10b Biden asked for.… Image
Couple billion for replacing super-polluting heavy-duty vehicles with cleaner ones would super-charge efforts to clean up ports in particular: Image
$7b for a zero-emissions whatever-you-need slush fund (and I mean that in the best possible way) ImageImage
EPA gets $5 million to hold corporations accountable to their greenwashy climate action commitments: Image
$95 million for composting! Image
OK evening plans call. (I have a life!!) To be continued.
OK, got my coffee. Now that this thing's theoretically going to pass, time to keep reading. (Highlighting random interesting stuff, not the big ticket items that make the news.) Starting with $5b for loans to transition communities that depend on fossil fuel production: Image
$4 billion in free money to help heavy industrial facilities (like steel mills) decarbonize Image
Cost-sharing caps for insulin: Image
New transparency requirements for pharmacy benefit managers, which have all kinds of backroom deals with drug manufacturers: Image
A mandate to study and regulate nurse staffing ratios in skilled nursing facilities (big priority of folks like @NationalNurses) Image
@NationalNurses Preventing new moms from being cut off Medicaid for a year following a birth: Image
@NationalNurses BIllions upon billions for public health infrastructure with a heavy emphasis on rural/underserved areas, including $2 billion for the national health service corps and $0.5b for rural nursing schools: ImageImage
@NationalNurses $1.3b for beefing up pandemic response capacity -- stuff like the national strategic stockpile and domestic manufacturing of critical drugs/PPE/vaccine supples that were such a problem at the beginning of all this ImageImage
$50 million for doulas, along with hundreds of millions more to address maternal mortality, particularly in minority communities Image
Lots of money for mental health and suicide prevention, including $2.5 billion to address community violence and trauma interventions ImageImage
You're worried about supply chains? Here's $5 billion for the Commerce Department to study and strengthen manufacturing supply chains Image
The FTC gets a privacy bureau to address identity theft, data breaches, etc Image
OK this is a big ticket item, which is not what this thread is for, but ~$63 billion for public housing is a big deal -- just a bit off the $70 billion @CenterOnBudget recommended… Image
@CenterOnBudget $1.8 billion for climate resiliency/water/energy efficiency for multifamily buildings, and another $1.8 billion for rural rental housing: ImageImage
@CenterOnBudget Much more assorted housing stuff. Also grants for planning programs to increase housing supply, including better zoning (!!!) to reduce barriers to housing construction: Image
@CenterOnBudget Some serious heft -- $540 million -- behind fair housing enforcement. Recalling that amazing @Newsday investigation that did what the federal government couldn't without this kind of funding.… Image
@CenterOnBudget @Newsday A $76 million small dollar mortgage demonstration program -- particularly important for financing homeownership in disinvested communities where homes appraise for too little to be worth the bank's time. Image
@CenterOnBudget @Newsday !! $1.6 billion for the Minority Business Development Agency -- which as I wrote in February has for 50 years scraped by as a sad gesture towards the importance of democratizing entrepreneurship.… ImageImageImage
@CenterOnBudget @Newsday Lots of immigration provisions that I'll never understand as well as @DLind, including new fees for lots of different types of visas: ImageImage
$2.5 billion for community violence prevention. Image
The FTC and DOJ each get half a billion dollars for antitrust enforcement, and DOJ also gets half a billion for cracking down on tax evasion (which you'd think CBO would score as a revenue raiser!!) ImageImage
ALong with lots of climate resilience money for tribes, the Indian Health Services gets more than a billion dollars, after relentless coverage by the WSJ and others about problems caused in part by underfunding:… Image
NOAA gets $6 billion for coastal restoration/resilience in the face of increasingly intense storms, and another $1 billion to bolster salmon populations ImageImage
Bees, mussels, and desert fish each get $5 million. ImageImageImage
Canceling oil leases in the Arctic National Wildlife REfuge and banning future oil leases on the Outer Continental Shelf, while opening it up to wind development. ImageImage
Lots of new fees on other oil and gas leases, the impact of which @MarkOlalde would understand way better than me ImageImage
@MarkOlalde $3B for the GSA and $2.6B for the USPS to buy zero-emissions vehicles. Last year I wrote about how the 2009 stimulus failed to put enough government procurement money behind electric vehicles to get a domestic battery manufacturing industry off the ground:… ImageImage
Bookmarking page 937 on a 2,135-page bill, going outside for a bit.
Back for a bit.

The Department of Energy gets a billion for advanced energy technology demonstration projects Image
The EPA gets $100m for climate change-related air quality monitoring, NASA gets a total of $325 million for climate research including sustainable aviation and wildfire surveillance ImageImage
Along with hundreds of millions of dollars to NIST and NOAA for climate research, also $20m for climate change education and $139m for hurricane-forecasting aircraft (👀) ImageImage
$500m for the National Science Foundation to upgrade core research infrastructure, along with billions more for research grants Image
A billion for something called Uplift Incubators -- seems like a small business acceleration program for disadvantaged/underprivileged entrepreneur types Image
Lots more support for small business lending and capital investment, including $225M for a new loan guarantee program for underserved markets Image
!!! $100 million for the SBA to carry out a pilot program to make loans to cooperative businesses *without a personal guarantee,* which as I wrote earlier this year was a big barrier to participation for worker- and community-owned businesses.… Image
$9.75 billion for transit access for folks who live in low-income neighborhoods, including buses and light rail ImageImage
$4 billion for the Federal Highway Administration to make grants to state and local governments for carbon reduction projects (which hasn't been, like, top of mind for the biggest funder of roads in America) ImageImage
Oh my heart: $2.4 billion for walkability, complete streets, stormwater management, natural features to mitigate urban heat islands and air pollution, etc. ImageImageImage
$10 billion for 160-mph trains! ImageImage
$300m for sustainable aviation fuels, $500m for greening federal buildings, $650 for climate-proofing the Coast Guard, and $350m for one (1) Great Lakes Heavy Icebreaker ImageImage
The war on cars, in budget form. (Condition of $900m in funding for the incremental costs of using low-carbon materials in transportation projects) Image
A new entitlement: Four weeks of leave for caregiving, with partial wage replacement by the government. Image
A bunch of adjustments to Trade Adjustment Assistance making it more generous and flexible, for example with childcare allowances and coverage for public sector workers. ImageImageImage
The creation of a whole new branch of trade adjustment assistance (which already also includes TAA for firms): TAA for Communities. Grants for places hit when jobs are offshored. ImageImage
Some $700 million to train nursing home workers and address social isolation among older Americans. ImageImage
People seem upset about this, thinking that it's $5B just for studies, but it's actually for studying AND doing things, as the original tweet said and as the rest of the bill section reads. Image
A new tax credit for rehabbing 1-4 family homes and selling them to low-moderate income buyers, as summarized here:
Unclear how much it costs. Image
Long section on renewing/extending/expanding/creating tax credits for renewable energy, sustainable fuels, electric vehicles, and energy efficient buildings, including zero-emissions nuclear and clean hydrogen. Also a 30% tax credit for the cost of wildfire mitigation. ImageImageImage
EV vehicle tax credits are (I believe) only for cars assembled in unionized U.S. plants, with batteries made in the U.S. (gonna hawk my battery story one more time)…

Here's a higher-level overview of the tax credit landscape:… Image
Tax credits for bikes! (I feel like not many people are going to do the paperwork for this and a straight subsidy would be better, sigh) ImageImage
Extending the refundable Child Tax Credit, adding $4 billion for administration and to promote enrollment ImageImage
Creating medical school scholarships for doctors who go work in rural or other underserved areas. Image
Getting into the corporate pay-fors, including a new 1% tax on stock buybacks. Also a little dig at REITs that own prisons. ImageImageImage
Getting into the individual tax pay-fors, including a surcharge on income above $10 million, and limitations on absurdly large Roth IRAs (as exposed by my colleagues @JustinElliott @SheInvestigates and @bandler_james )… ImageImageImage
@JustinElliott @SheInvestigates @bandler_james About $80B for IRS taxpayer assistance and enforcement, and (!!!) $15million to study creating an IRS-run free e-file system, following @JustinElliott and @paulkiel's dogged investigation of how Intuit forced most of us to pay for tax-prep services:… Image
@JustinElliott @SheInvestigates @bandler_james @paulkiel Tax deduction for union dues and a credit for the employment of local journalists ❤️ ImageImage
Drug price negotiation, which makes my brain hurt. Image
Welp, I'm done.

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More from @lydiadepillis

Dec 26, 2022
This week in the NBERs, surprising evidence that youth suicides actually rose when schools reopened post-pandemic, mirroring a longstanding trend (which I hate is even common enough to track) of suicides rising when kids go back to school in the fall:…
(I guess I say surprising because of reporting by @AlecMacGillis and others about the pandemic's impact on teens' mental health:… )
@AlecMacGillis Less surprising but also saddening, a study showing the short and longer term financial and educational impacts on victims of domestic violence and their kids, based on data from Norway:…
Read 5 tweets
Jan 17, 2022
Great paper in the NBERs today from @davidautor et al. finding that the PPP was:

- Expensive: $170-257K/job-year retained
- Regressive: 3/4 of funds went to top 5th of households
- Badly targeted: 25-34% went to workers who would've otherwise lost jobs…
This generally squares with my reporting, which showed a lot of takeup among companies that ended up laying off huge numbers of workers anyway:…
and that probably had ample access to other capital:…
(But I wasn't able to empirically understand the scope of all the small businesses we heard about that were doing just fine and took the money anyway -- the lawyers and law firms and tech startups and construction companies -- which is why economics is rad)
Read 6 tweets
Dec 22, 2021
New from me: Remember spending last year trying to get a PCR test and then waiting days for results? Well, it’s not because rapid antigen tests didn’t exist. They were just muddling their way through a regulatory process designed for something else. 1/…
In March 2020, a small company that spun out of an MIT lab in 2018 to make rapid antigen tests for tropical diseases quickly adapted their technology to target Covid-19. Preliminary lab data showed that the prototype lateral flow test would at least catch superspreaders. 2/
But the FDA wanted to see clinical trials, so they spent months conducting one in Florida. The results ultimately came in close to the lab data: 80% sensitivity, with almost 100% detection of people with the most virus in their systems, and 94% specificity. 3/
Read 7 tweets
Nov 19, 2021
I keep thinking about this story as the bill is debated, because it is the purest distillation of what @jayrosen_nyu has called the "savvy style" of political journalism: Avoiding responsibility for having any moral values by reducing policy to a partisan catfight.
After reading the bill myself (), what struck me is that it's a collection of responses to specific problems that journalists have illuminated over the years: Maternal mortality, Turbotax fuckery, Indian Health Service neglect, rural doctor shortage, etc.
In an ideal world, Congress would legislate more thoughtful, targeted responses to those problems. Instead, because Congress barely functions, we throw money at them in the form of a massive budget bill *because it’s the only thing that can pass with a simple majority.*
Read 5 tweets
Nov 4, 2021
NEW from me and @ericuman: In which we try to figure out why it’s way harder and more expensive than it should be to get a rapid Covid test.

The answer comes down to having both too much government, and not enough.… 1/
The FDA has been making a ton of headlines lately as it authorizes vaccines for kids and boosters for adults. But do you ever hear about the FDA greenlighting Covid tests? Probably not, and that’s part of the problem. 2/
Since the beginning of the pandemic, FDA officials have been wary of rapid antigen tests, which are less sensitive than PCR tests. They’re worried about people getting false negative results right before they become infectious--but PCRs often take days to turn around. 3/
Read 8 tweets
Jul 31, 2021
Just biked from Eastern Market to Adams Morgan and it is a nightmare out there for anyone not in a car (and drivers too). Even earlier this evening, total single-occupancy-vehicle pandemonium at the Wharf and the Yards. I dread waking up to learn that pedestrians/bikers died. 1/
I don't remember it being this bad pre-pandemic. Something about delivery traffic plus a movement away from public transit has created a dangerous conflagration of drunken nightlife (which is fine!) and cars that think they can drive as fast as they want and park wherever. 2/
How congested does it have to get before drivers make different choices? How much does parking have to cost for people to get on a train? We're already at nearly the number of traffic fatalities that happened in all of 2019.… 3/
Read 4 tweets

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