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Email: mckenzie @ dataforprogress.org
Today, Data for Progress released a new poll finding strong and continued majority support for the Build Back Better Act, even after voters are shown common opposing arguments for the plan. Data for Progress finds a majority of voters support the Build Back Better Act after being shown such arguments by a +23-point margin. This support includes Democrats by +75 points, Independents by +21 points, and nearly a third of Republicans.
The poll also finds that the provisions of the Build Back Better Act address the greatest concerns among likely voters. 96 percent of voters are either very, somewhat, or a little concerned about the cost of prescription drugs, healthcare and long-term care. 91 percent are concerned about the cost of housing.
"Our polling finds that voters continue to strongly support the Build Back Better Act, even after being shown the most common arguments opposing the plan," said Ahmad Ali, Press Secretary of Data for Progress. "We also find voters are most concerned about household costs like prescription drugs and long-term care that provisions of the Build Back Better Act would reduce."
Read the full polling tabs and methodology here.
Data for Progress is a multidisciplinary group of experts using state-of-the-art techniques in data science to support progressive activists and causes.
"Ramping up reuse systems is the most sensible approach to replacing single-use plastics and dramatically cut plastic production," said one advocate. "The plastics treaty discussions this week must lay the groundwork for this transformation."
As world leaders convened in Paris on Tuesday for negotiations regarding a global plastics treaty that the United States and plastic producers are hoping will take a limited approach and center recycling, a new study showed how investing in the "mass adoption of reuse systems" would make a far bigger impact in cutting plastic pollution and reducing carbon emissions that are derived from the making of plastic.
The Break Free From Plastic movement commissioned the study, Making Reuse a Reality, by the Global Plastics Policy Center at the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom. Researchers drew from 320 articles and papers as well as dozens of new interviews with experts on reuse systems.
The researchers found that shifting to reuse systems on a mass scale would require a phasing-in process but could ultimately cut plastic pollution by 30% by 2040.
"The scourge of single-use packaging continues to grow at a pace beyond the capacities of existing waste management systems," said Von Hernandez, global coordinator for Break Free From Plastic. "Prevention is key; ramping up reuse systems is the most sensible approach to replacing single-use plastics and dramatically cut plastic production. The plastics treaty discussions this week must lay the groundwork for this transformation."
As Tiza Mafira, executive director of Plastic Bag Diet in Indonesia, explained in a video released by the research team, people around the world have for years turned to reusable materials to replace single-use plastic packaging in their own homes.
A mass transition would require similar efforts by businesses around the world, Mafira said.
"We are drowning in plastic pollution, and almost half of it is just packaging," she said. "Instead of delivering products in disposable plastic, [in a reuse system] businesses create durable and reusable packaging that gets returned to them and used over and over. Instead of throwing away bottles, they get refilled. Instead of trashing food takeaway containers, they get washed and reused."
Making Reuse a Reality - Explainer
Seventy-seven percent of the reuse experts interviewed for the study said standardizing packaging and developing tracking methods would be "key enablers" to shift to a reuse system on a large scale.
The experts suggested using tagging systems including QR codes, Radio Frequency Identification Device tags, or Near Field Communication chips, as well as methods to make returning reusable packaging as easy as possible for consumers.
"Interviewees emphasized the need for easily accessible drop-off points that are relevant to where End-of-Use occurs. The system should acknowledge the return, which can be efficiently done through code or tag readers or by staff," reads the report. "The return points should be clearly identifiable with a reuse logo and instructions and should be located in highly accessible areas."After consumers return their packaging, it would be cleaned and pooled at central "hubs" before being delivered back to stores and factories.
The coalition says a legally binding instrument is needed to end plastic pollution by 2040, but countries including the U.S., China, and Saudi Arabia are joining many plastics and chemical companies in supporting voluntary "national action plans" that would allow individual countries to decide how to reduce their plastic production and use.
The U.S. produces more plastic waste per person than any other country, according to a study published in Science Advances in 2020.
"If we're serious as a global community about averting climate change and about addressing the three planetary crises of biodiversity loss, pollution and climate change, we have to be thinking about reducing plastic production," Jane Patton, campaign manager for plastics and petrochemicals at the Center for International Environmental Law, toldThe Washington Post on Tuesday.
Critics including several members of Congress have warned the Biden administration that its focus on reducing plastic pollution is too narrow, with Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) telling President Joe Biden in a letter last week that he should recognize the threats to "public health, ecosystems, and our global climate" that are posed by plastic production.
"As one of the leading drivers of this crisis, the United States has a leadership opportunity and an obligation to help move the world responsibly in the right direction," wrote Merkley and Huffman. "The international legally binding instrument is an unprecedented opportunity to address our plastic pollution crisis and our climate crisis in tandem. We urge you to stop thinking of this as just as a pollution problem and to recognize it as the public health, justice, and climate crisis that it poses."
The University of Portsmouth study, said Global Plastics Policy Center director Steve Fletcher, shows that a scaled-up reuse system "has huge untapped potential to end plastic pollution."
"What we need now," he said, "is a clear vision for reuse and the right support to mainstream it."
"My amendment would protect student borrowers while also affirming the president's clear legal authority to implement payment pauses, broad-based debt cancellation, and other critical relief measures."
U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley on Tuesday filed an amendment to remove the section of the debt ceiling bill that would codify an end to the federal student loan payment pause and potentially compromise the Biden administration's authority to implement another moratorium at a later date.
Pressley (D-Mass.), a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and a vocal supporter of student debt cancellation, said the payment freeze "has been an essential lifeline for workers and families struggling to make ends meet" during the coronavirus pandemic and the associated economic turmoil.
"My amendment would protect student borrowers while also affirming the president's clear legal authority to implement payment pauses, broad-based debt cancellation, and other critical relief measures," said Pressley. "Republicans continue to play games with our economy, with disregard for our most vulnerable families."
House Republicans originally demanded a full repeal of President Joe Biden's pending student debt cancellation plan as part of any deal to raise the debt limit. But the measure that ultimately emerged from negotiations between the White House and the GOP would only cement into law the Biden administration's pledge to end the student loan repayment pause, which has been extended eight times since it was first implemented early in the coronavirus pandemic.
Campaigners say the provision could be disastrous for borrowers across the country, particularly if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the Biden administration's debt cancellation plan.
If approved in its current form, the debt ceiling bill would cut off the payment pause 60 days after June 30, 2023 unless Congress greenlights another extension.
The bill, which the House is expected to vote on as soon as Wednesday evening, states that "the secretary of education may not use any authority to implement an extension" of the payment pause, but Education Secretary Miguel Cardona insisted over the weekend that the Biden administration will retain "ability to pause student loan payments should that be necessary in future emergencies."
\u201cThe pause on student loan payments has been life-changing for families across the country.\n\nMy amendment would strike the provisions from the McCarthy debt ceiling bill that force payments to resume on Sept 1.\u201d— Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (@Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley) 1685544409
In a statement on Tuesday, the Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC) warned that the debt limit measure would bind the federal government to "a reckless and aggressive timeline to restart loan payments, irrespective of the outcome of a pair of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court that will determine whether President Biden's August 2022 plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student loan debt can go into effect."
Mike Pierce, SBPC executive director, said the payment pause "remains one of the most durably popular pieces of economic policy because the American people recognize what Washington has long struggled to understand: the student loan system is broken and the burden of student debt creates a barrier to economic opportunity for all of us."
According to a survey conducted earlier this month by Data for Progress, more than 60% of U.S. voters would support an extension of the payment pause through the end of 2024 if the Supreme Court sides with right-wing challengers and strikes down the Biden administration's student debt cancellation plan.
"The debt limit deal raises the stakes even higher for millions of working people with student debt," Pierce said Tuesday. "We applaud Congresswoman Pressley for standing up for borrowers and their families and fighting to preserve this critical economic lifeline."
"I didn't come to Congress to hurt people," said Rep. Jim McGovern. "And when I listen to my Republican friends, what is clear to me is that we don't share the same values."
Rep. Jim McGovern, a leading anti-hunger lawmaker in the House, expressed anger Tuesday that the debt ceiling legislation negotiated by Republicans and the Biden administration targets food benefits for older adults while doing nothing to raise taxes on the wealthy or rein in military spending.
During a House Rules Committee hearing on the bill, McGovern (D-Mass.)—the panel's top Democrat—slammed his Republican colleagues for claiming to care about the deficit but refusing to look to the Department of Defense, a paragon of wasteful spending and fraud, for savings. The White House and Republicans ultimately agreed to increase military spending for the coming fiscal year.
Meanwhile, Republicans rejected White House proposals to close tax loopholes exploited by the rich.
Instead, McGovern said Tuesday, the GOP insists Congress has to "cut funding that helps the most vulnerable in this country."
"Give me a goddamn break," he added.
McGovern voiced particular alarm over the bill's expansion of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) work requirements to include adults between the ages of 50 and 54, a Republican demand. Analysts and campaigners say the change, which would sunset in 2030, could put hundreds of thousands of older adults at risk of losing food aid.
White House officials and President Joe Biden himself have defended the new requirements by pointing to the legislation's proposed expansion of SNAP benefits for veterans, kids leaving foster care, and people experiencing housing insecurity.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Biden brushed aside progressives' warnings that the bill could cause some people to go hungry, calling such concerns "ridiculous."
McGovern pushed back during Tuesday's hearing, saying that "improving benefits for some does not justify putting 700,000 older adults at risk of losing critical, lifesaving food benefits."
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) published an assessment late Tuesday that concludes the debt ceiling bill, titled the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023, would lead to roughly 78,000 people gaining SNAP benefits "in an average month, on net (an increase of about 0.2% in the total number of people receiving SNAP benefits)."
But observers cautioned that the CBO's estimate hinges on ensuring that vulnerable people, particularly those who are homeless, are aware they are exempt from SNAP work requirements and able to navigate the program's bureaucracy.
"This is HIGHLY theoretical," The American Prospect's David Dayen wrote of the CBO analysis. "There's no funding to identify eligible people without benefits or to help them apply or find the necessary documentation. I obviously haven't seen the model but it seems like wishful thinking to me."
"How are we exactly a) informing homeless individuals that 1 of the 2 work requirements for SNAP [has] been lifted, b) helping them collect and submit the documents that prove they meet the income test, and so on?" Dayen asked.
After a nearly six-hour hearing, the Republican-controlled House Rules Committee voted Tuesday to send the debt ceiling legislation to the full House for a vote, which could come as soon as Wednesday evening.
McGovern and every other Democrat on the panel voted no.
Ahead of Tuesday's committee vote, McGovern called the latest standoff over the debt ceiling an "all-time high in recklessness and stupidity" and said Republicans "manufactured" a "crisis that risks the full faith and credit of the United States."
"Republicans are unfit to govern," said McGovern, one of the lawmakers who—to no avail—urged Biden to use his 14th Amendment authority to unilaterally avert a debt ceiling catastrophe.
"This bill could have been a lot more awful than it is," McGovern added. "I didn't come to Congress to hurt people. And when I listen to my Republican friends, what is clear to me is that we don't share the same values."