Friday Edition


The latest IRS data shows the wealthiest Americans paid a higher percentage of income taxes than ever before. (National Taxpayers Union)

A new report from the National Taxpayers Union found that in 2021, the top 1% of earners paid 46% of all income taxes. That’s the highest share paid by top earners since 1980, when the NTU began tracking the data. The bottom 50% pay only 2% of income taxes.

Source: National Taxpayers Union

Amid a broader conversation about income inequality, there’s been a growing movement to increase taxes on top-earning Americans. President Biden and lawmakers in multiple states have proposed wealth taxes on the rich. A controversial Biden administration analysis (which counted increases in the value of rich people’s assets as income) found that the average tax rate for the 400 wealthiest U.S. households was only 8.2%.

60% of Americans say they’re bothered “a lot” by the rich not “paying their fair share” of taxes. Over the last ten years, the wealthiest 1% of Americans got 19 times richer than the bottom half, according to a 2023 Oxfam report.

Low-income U.S. counties are now receiving an outsized share of investments in strategic sectors like clean energy, electronics and biomanufacturing, according to a new report from the Brookings Institution. (Axios)

While economically distressed communities account for about 8% of national GDP, they’ve gotten 16% of strategic sector investments since 2021. The investments are concentrated in southern states but span the country. Much of the trend has been fueled by Biden-era legislation like the Inflation Reduction Act and CHIPS and Science Act.

Big picture, the idea that many American towns have been left behind has been a major theme in politics recently. Donald Trump and President Biden have both made reviving America's struggling economic areas a major part of their platforms. And they’ve both enacted policies aimed at tackling the problem.

With youth obesity rates at all-time highs, more children are using weight-loss drugs like Wegovy. (Reuters)

In the first 10 months of 2023, 1,268 U.S. adolescents aged 12 to 17 with obesity started using the weight-loss drug Wegovy. That’s a significant jump from only 25 children who were prescribed the drug in 2022. Despite the increase, it’s still a tiny fraction of the approximately 14.7 million U.S. children and teens who are considered obese.

Drugs like Wegovy and Ozempic, which have been approved by the FDA relatively recently, are garnering a lot of hype because studies show they’re effective at helping people lose weight. Roughly 40% of American adults are obese. But mass adoption of prescription weight loss drugs hasn’t happened yet, with 87% of U.S. adults saying they’ve never taken any.


In the midst of a fight over additional Ukraine funding, American political figures have been sharing lots of opinions on Russia over the past few days. But how does the U.S. public feel?

Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, issued an ominous-sounding but vague warning Wednesday asking President Biden to declassify information about a national security threat posed by Russia. The White House clarified yesterday that Russia had obtained a “troubling” anti-satellite weapon, but that it was not capable of harming humans or causing “physical destruction.”

Donald Trump said at a rally Saturday he’d encourage Russia to do “whatever the hell they want” to NATO member countries that don’t spend 2% of their GDP on defense. Biden called Trump’s comments “dumb,” “shameful” and “un-American,” and accused the former president of bowing “down to a Russian dictator.”

Tucker Carlson, who last week interviewed Russian President Vladimir Putin, released videos this week praising the quality of Moscow’s metro and grocery stores. “Coming to a Russian grocery store, the ‘heart of evil,’ and seeing what things cost and how they live, it will radicalize you against our leaders,” Carlson said.

Americans’ views of Russia have declined consistently over the past ten years. Gallup polling shows a majority of the public viewed Russia favorably in 2011, but Russian favorability has since declined to 9%. Nearly 90% of Americans have an unfavorable view of the country.

While Americans have a dim view of Russia, they’re also becoming less supportive of aid to Ukraine. A new AP-NORC poll found support for providing weapons to Ukraine is now at 48%, down from 60% in May 2022.


Democrats and Republicans both feel like the other side is winning, a phenomenon that started in 2016. (Pew Research Center)

Chart: Pew Research Center

A new Pew Research Center poll found 71% of Americans feel their political side is losing more than they win on important issues. Both Republicans (83%) and Democrats (62%) feel they're losing, with Republicans feeling a sharper decline in perceived victories since Donald Trump left office.

It’s far from the only sign of how dissatisfied Americans are with politics and the parties. According to a Gallup poll from November, a record-high 63% of the public says a third party is needed because the Democratic Party and GOP don’t do an adequate job of representing Americans. In January, the share of Americans identifying as independents tied an all-time high.

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