Supercreator Daily: AOC isn’t a fan of the Senate’s infrastructure compromise

Plus: Was Darnella Frazier’s special citation from the Pulitzer Prizes enough? And cookie dough that boosts your immune system.

Hi, hey, hello!

Welcome to back to the Supercreator Daily. It’s Monday, June 14. I’m sending the newsletter in the morning this week as another one of my experiments to deliver an enjoyable reading experience and get the most out of my reporting and writing workflow. Same newsletter, different time. We’ll see how it goes.

AOC isn’t a fan of the Senate’s infrastructure compromise

Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York said yesterday it was doubtful that she would support a bipartisan compromise on legislation to rebuild our country’s infrastructure. “It’s not going to create the millions of union jobs we need in this country — particularly to recover from the pandemic — and it’s not going to get us closer to meeting our climate goals, which are crucially important at this point in time.”

Congressional Democrats have just three votes to spare in the House and none in the split Senate if they plan to send a bill to President Joe Biden’s desk for a signature by the 4th of July weekend. Ocasio-Cortez’s sentiment is one echoed by several other progressive lawmakers, which could spell doom for the compromise framework. (Ocasio-Cortez currently represents my Congressional district.)

Last week Biden cut off talks on a compromise with Senate Republicans, renewing a sense of urgency among group of 10 so-called moderate senators, led by Ohio’s Rob Portman on the GOP side and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema for Democrats, to come up with an alternative bill of their own.

The deal would cost $1.2 trillion and focus on physical infrastructure like modernizing our roads, bridges and transit centers. But it would exclude funding to raise wages for caregiving jobs and shrink investments in climate justice. The compromise would also require revenue streams that cross the White House’s red lines on raising taxes on households earning less than $400,000 or redistributing unused pandemic resources. It would be a huge win for Republicans if they could squeeze these initiatives out of the final bill.

We’ll likely get a better idea of where the bill stands this week as more lawmakers are expected to go on record in support or opposition of the compromise. It’ll also be interesting to watch this week if the White House gets behind a proposal that satisfies the president’s desire for bipartisan consensus but undermines the most ambitious aspects of his economic agenda.

The Justice Department doubles down on voting rights

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced last Friday that the Justice Department would double the enforcement staff in the Civil Rights Division within the next thirty days to protect the right to vote.

Since the 2020 election, more than 380 bills have been introduced across the country restrict the right to vote by eliminating options like early voting and voting by mail that make participating in our democracy more convenient and accessible. Earlier this month, the President added the administration’s efforts to protect voting rights to Vice President Kamala Harris‘s portfolio. The latest announcements from Garland reinforce voter expansion as a high priority at the White House.  

But for real progress to happen, new federal laws have to be passed to neutralize restrictions coming out of GOP-led state and local legislatures. And while the House approved a sweeping voting rights law in March, the Senate is at an empasse since it lacks the 60 votes required to advance. The legislation, named the For the People Act, would expand voter registration and voting access, limit the removal of voters from voter rolls and require states to establish independent commissions to carry out congressional redistricting.

In addition to expanding the Civil Rights Division, Garland announced additional actions on voting rights, including enforcing provisions in laws that already exist to protect voters. The Department is also reviewing new voter restrictions for violations to act on prior to the upcoming midterm elections next year.

Garland said the DOJ would especially look for discrimination against Black voters and other voters of color. And the Justice Department plans to publish guidance on preserving the integrity of early voting, voting by mail and post-election audits.

As states prepare to redraw their legislative maps after last year’s Census, Main Justice is clarifying the voting protections that apply to all jurisdictions. It will also partner with other federal agencies to expand voter registration opportunities, combat election misinformation designed to intentionally suppress the vote and protect state and local election workers from extremist violence.

How Biden plans to advance equity in education

The Department of Education is hosting a free virtual summit next week to explore how schools and communities can level the playing field for students of color, students with disabilities and multilingual learners.

For too long, our education system has privileged whiteness and wealth. These white students grow up to be white creators and decision-makers while Black and brown brilliance is kept at the margins. And the pandemic exacerbated these inequalities. “While COVID-19 has worsened many inequities in our schools and communities, we know that even before the pandemic, a high-quality education was out of reach for too many of our nation’s students and families,” Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement. But students deserve to be nurtured regardless of a their zip code or legacy. And the more support we can give schools, communities, families and educators so students feel empowered to express their creativity, discover new creative skills and develop sustainable learning habits, the better.

The DOE said the summit is part of its efforts to fulfill the executive order President Biden signed on his first day in office to advance racial equity and support for marginalized communities across the federal government after a four-year hands-off approach from previous education secretary Betsy DeVos and the T**** administration.

Along with the summit, the Department rolled out guidance to implement a provision from the White House’s stimulus plan so school districts with the highest poverty maintain their pre-pandemic state funding levels. The Department also released a report that explores how the impacts of the pandemic are disproportionately falling on students who entered the crisis with the fewest educational opportunities. The report also highlights how many students of color and from the LGBTQ+ community have lost access to mental health services during the pandemic and found themselves at heightened risk of sexual harassment, abuse and violence - particularly girls, women, and students who are transgender, non-binary, or gender non-conforming.

The equity in education summit is the first in a series of programming with details on additional sessions coming later this summer.

The characteristics of trustworthy news

A new survey from the Pew Research Center found less than a quarter of US adults say they consider the number of shares, comments or likes on social media when determining whether a news story is trustworthy or not. Broad majorities consider these five factors instead:

  • The news organization that publishes it (88 percent)

  • The sources cited in it (86 percent)

  • Their gut instinct about it (77 percent)

  • The person, if any, who shared it with them (68 percent)

  • The specific journalist who reported it (66 percent)

The research indicates the lessening impact of the metrics that once dominated social apps like Facebook and Twitter. As media consumers continue to grow skeptical of the algorithms that surface their news, the traditional harbingers of trustworthiness remain in tact.

Mainstream news has been under assault by right-wing outlets that were emboldened by Donald T****’s rhetoric towards media organizations and tech bros who feel like journalists should serve as PR for their products instead of skeptics of their industry’s unrestrained power.

The poll also found that Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are slightly more likely than Republicans and GOP leaners to say it’s very important to consider the news organization that publishes a story and the sources that are cited in it. Republicans also trust their gut instinct more than Dems.

Younger Americans are less concerned with the news organization that publishes a story when determining its trustworthiness than older Americans. Nearly six in ten adults with a college degree say it’s very important to consider the news organizations and sources that are cited in a story; those with a high school diploma or less are more likely to see other factors as very important.

Black Americans point to their gut instinct as a very important factor and are more likely than other Americans to point to a specific journalist who reported the story and the person who shared it with them.

See the full results from the survey along with the questions used for Pew’s analysis, the responses and its methodology.

Was Darnella Frazier’s Pulitzer citation enough?

The Pulitzer Prizes awarded Darnella Frazier with a special citation last Friday for courageously recording the murder of George Floyd. “[The] video spurred protests against police brutality around the world, highlighting the crucial role of citizens in journalists’ quest for truth and justice.”

The Pulitzer Prizes, which honors excellence in journalism, has a reputation for focusing too much on legacy institutions. But Frazier’s award and this year’s focus on the pandemic and the racial reckoning showed love to some well-deserved winners who captured this fraught moment in time with clarity and courage.

Still, some think a better recognition for Frazier’s work would have been inclusion in an existing category or the creation of or call for a new category honoring citizen journalism. “Quite simply, her citation is not enough,” author Mikki Kendall wrote in an op-ed for CNN. “It does not change the history of the Pulitzers, nor does its symbolism alter the traumatic reality she recorded in preserved.”

See all the winners of the 2021 Pulitzer Prizes.

Here’s what else you should know today:


Read All About It

Will Parker at The Wall Street Journal on built-to-rent suburbs:

Built-to-rent subdivisions are attractive to some urban apartment renters who want to move to the suburbs but are unable or uninterested in buying a home. Many young professionals and families are less keen than their parents in being tied down by a 30-year mortgage, according to real-estate analysts, builders and tenants. They want the flexibility of renting and the freedom that comes with being able to pick up and leave after a lease. As they age, they may want the yard, garage, good schools and roomy basement, without the headaches of mowing that yard or buying a new motor when the garage door breaks.

Ross Douthat at The New York Times on how Joe Manchin can fix the filibuster:

As a practical matter a 55-vote threshold [instead of 60] puts a lot of things that the West Virginia senator favors more in play — from the gun-control measure he hashed out with Pat Toomey in the Obama years to infrastructure spending and the Jan. 6 commission in this presidency — while still throwing up a strong impediment to ideological legislating. It gives the kind of Republicans he’s most inclined to work with more power in the Senate, without creating a situation where activists can expect moderate Democrats to constantly join 51-49 votes. It adapts the filibuster in a reasonable way to our age of heightened polarization, maintaining protections for the minority, while making some deals that used to be possible available again.

Daniel Hernandez at The Los Angeles Times on Hollywood’s persistent Latino gap:

U.S. Latinos in 2025 are expected to reach 20% of the population, according to census projections, meaning 1 in 5 Americans will identify as Latino in a handful of years. By 2045, a quarter of Americans are expected to be Latino. Yet study after study shows a vast gap between the number of Latinos represented in English-language Hollywood productions and their share of the population at large. USC’s 2020 inclusion study of 1,300 popular films found that 4.9% of speaking roles in 2019 movies went to Hispanic or Latino actors. And UCLA’s 2020 “Hollywood Diversity Report” found an underrepresentative 5% of the roles in scripted broadcast TV shows went to Latino actors in the 2018-19 season.

Jerry Useem at The Atlantic on the psychological benefits of commuting to work:

But here’s the strange part. Many people liberated from the commute have experienced a void they can’t quite name. In it, all theaters of life collapse into one. There are no beginnings or endings. The hero’s journey never happens. The threshold goes uncrossed. The sack of Troy blurs with Telemachus’s math homework. And employers—even the ones that have provided the tools for remote work—see cause for alarm. “No commute may be hurting, not helping, remote worker productivity,” a Microsoft report warned last fall. After-hours chats were up 69 percent among users of the company’s messaging platform, and workers were less engaged and more exhausted.

Rani Molla at Recode on the return of big events:

The recovery of the event ecosystem is happening faster than expected. Events professionals see the number of events and event attendance reaching and potentially surpassing pre-pandemic levels in 2019. But that recovery is contingent on a number of factors, including how effective the vaccine program is, the nature of the events themselves, and where they are located. 

Event industry leaders pointed again and again to pent-up demand to illustrate their certainty that events would succeed in a post-pandemic world. After a year and a half spent at home, many people are more than ready to attend festivals, concerts, sporting events, and other big group pastimes they’ve been missing. So far it looks like they’re doing their best to make up for lost time.

Jacob Silverman at The New Republic on the real reason Chipotle burritos cost more:

From Chipotle to Uber, these are obvious examples of class war, of senior company leaders and influential shareholders continuing a decades-long tradition of underpaying frontline workers in order to reap the benefits for themselves. It is all the more insidious that when workers clamor for more—for dignity, union membership, personal protective equipment, and higher pay in workplaces that often remain dangerous—they are cast as malcontents or layabouts content to mooch off unemployment benefits. It doesn’t help that many lawmakers and corporate leaders don’t seem to recognize that places like Chipotle are not just boot-strapping opportunities for enterprising 20-year-old students. Increasingly, these types of jobs are full-time vocations for people who need to support themselves and their families. Various studies peg the median age of a fast-food worker as being around 28. The mean hourly wage for this group, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is $11.80, which equals $24,540 a year.


Michael’s Pick

Deux Enhanced Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ($15): I’ve been on a choco-chip cookie kick lately. The latest iteration? This vegan and gluten-free dough that’s enhanced with a couple of immunity boosters and safe enough to scoop right out of the jar.