It’s Thursday, February 20.In today’s newsletter: We’re talking about another billionaire (but not this one or that one). Plus: Russian trolls have a next favorite candidate.
« TODAY IN POLITICS »
(CLODAGH KILCOYNE / REUTERS)
The United States of Jeff Bezos
One uber-rich white billionaire may have been thoroughly filleted on the Democratic debate stage last night, but another, one not mounting a presidential run, may be the one whose actions send a larger message about the condition of American democracy.
This week, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos announced that he would drop $10 billion on a fund to combat climate change—immediately making the world’s richest man also the world’s biggest climate-change philanthropist. (How will he spend the money? TBD.)
In a healthy democracy, the world’s richest man wouldn’t be able to painlessly make a $10 billion donation. His fortune would be mitigated by the tax collector; antitrust laws would constrain the growth of his business. Instead of relying on a tycoon to bankroll the national response to an existential crisis, there would be a national response.
By just about any definition, $10 billion is a lotttt of money coming from one person.
2. Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax—a 2 percent tax on multi-millionaires—has become such a rallying cry for her candidacy that “two cents!” is a popular chant at her campaign rallies. If enacted, it would make the tax code a whole lot more redistributive, as my colleague Annie Lowrey writes, raising about $200 billion per year.
1. “Sanders escaped with many fewer bruises and bumps.”
With former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg on the debate stage last night, most of his primary rivals seemed to have forgotten who the front-runner is; Bernie Sanders essentially skated through unscathed. Ron Brownstein runs through the next scenarios.
2. “Willful, preventable ugliness is always a problem to one degree or another.”
A new draft executive order, informally known as “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again,” is making the rounds. Good use of government resources; bad use of government resources? Andrew Ferguson debates.
3. “Dignity binds together progressives and moderates opposed to Trump. It can also bring together constituencies who now find themselves opposed to each other.”
(MIKHAIL SVETLOV / JOE RAEDLE / DREW ANGERER / KATIE MARTIN / THE ATLANTIC)
Russian trolls have a next favorite candidate
Russia is reportedly interfering again, backing President Trump’s re-election. But the foreign government meddling doesn’t need to do much to get its other wish: dividing the U.S.
The Special Counsel investigation uncovered Russia’s work to boost Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump during the 2016 election. This time, there’s no Hillary Clinton. The . Democratic field is squabbling. Both Sanders and Trump profess interest in focusing the U.S. inward.
But that doesn’t mean Russians have less of a reason to interfere this year, Kathy Gilsinan reports. “Luckily for the Russians, then, the two current front-runners for the presidency, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, are both polarizing figures,” she writes.