Tuesday Edition



In a sign of the changing media landscape, influencer marketing, used by both political parties, is becoming key to campaign strategy. (Semafor)

Ariana Jasmine Afshar, with 46,000 Instagram and 200,000 TikTok followers, was one of the influencers paid by political marketing firm atAdvocacy and Evergreen Action to promote President Biden’s new power plant regulations. The result? More than 60,000 public comments to the Environmental Protection Agency supporting the regulations. A Democratic National Committee online organizing program, which recruited TikTok influencers to drive the party’s message, generated over 83 million impressions ahead of the 2022 midterms.

The advantages of influencers compared to traditional advertisements: Influencers are usually cheaper, trusted by their audiences and can get around policies that ban political ads.

Semafor’s Max Tani: “The relatively loose federal election regulations also allow influencer speech to be more opaque than traditional advertising. While campaigns must disclose that they’re paying the firms that contract influencers, it isn’t clear to the average viewer that they’re watching someone who is an informal paid spokesperson. This also allows campaigns and causes to pay to boost their message even when platforms, such as TikTok, prohibit direct political advertising.”


It used to be that institutions pretty much had a monopoly on communicating messages. Then social media disrupted that by giving everyone a microphone. We’re now seeing that communication power is coalescing around influencers. When those influencers are experts, that may be a good thing. In cases where the influencer isn’t truly knowledgeable, but rather a person who learned how to game social media algorithms to build an audience, that probably isn’t a good thing.


As illegal crossings into the U.S. continue to surge, Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, on Friday signed an executive order sending her state’s National Guard to the border. (Reuters)

Hobbs in a press release: “Despite continued requests for assistance, the Biden administration has refused to deliver desperately needed resources to Arizona’s border.”

She’s not the only Democrat who has criticized President Biden’s handling of immigration.

  • Rep. Pat Ryan, D-N.Y., in September: “We are in a crisis, the president is in charge, and he and his team need to take charge."

  • Eagle Pass, Texas Mayor Rolando Salinas in September: “I believe 100 percent [Biden] does, he bears some responsibility for this crisis. I haven't heard from anybody in the administration. … We're here abandoned.”

  • New York Mayor Eric Adams in April: “The president and the White House have failed New York City on [the migrant crisis].”


While polling shows nearly 80% of Americans believe crime has gotten worse in 2023, the latest quarterly FBI data suggests it’s declined significantly. (NBC News)

Violent crime dropped by 8% and property crime by 6.3% in the third quarter of 2023 compared to the same period last year, according to a new FBI report. Property crime is at its lowest level since 1961. Murder rates in the U.S. fell dramatically in 2023, with declines in all major crime categories except auto theft.

The FBI’s latest annual report, released in October, found violent crime returned to pre-pandemic levels in 2022, with a 6.1% decrease in murders, but property crime spiked. Detroit, Baltimore, and St. Louis are on track for significant reductions in murders, though some cities like Memphis and Washington D.C. have seen increases.

Big caveats: The Justice Department’s latest annual National Crime Victimization Survey found only 2 in 5 (42%) of violent victimizations were reported to police in 2022. The FBI's quarterly numbers cover only 78% of the U.S. population, compared to 93.5% for the annual report. Some cities’ prosecutorial policies may have had an effect on crime rates: Last year, 67% of criminal arrests in D.C. weren’t prosecuted.


22 states are set to increase their minimum wages in 2024. (USA Today)

Chart: USA Today

Seven states plus Washington, D.C., will set their minimum wages at or above $15 an hour. New York City, Westchester, and Long Island will increase their minimum wage to $16. Twenty states will maintain a minimum wage of $7.25. Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee have no minimum wage laws, defaulting to the federal rate of $7.25.

According to the Department of Labor, roughly 1 million of the 78.7 million hourly workers in the U.S. are paid at or below the federal minimum wage.


The Wall Street Journal editorial board argues in a new op-ed that President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act Medicare drug rebates are making medicine more expensive for Americans. (WSJ)

The IRA requires drug manufacturers to pay Medicare rebates if price hikes exceed the inflation rate. For example, if a drug's price rises 8% and inflation is 3%, the company must pay a 5% rebate to Medicare. Rebates are added to the Medicare Supplementary Medical Insurance Fund, which is mostly funded by general tax revenue.

Since the IRA's passage, prescription drug prices have risen faster, with a 5.5% increase under Biden compared to a 2% increase during Trump's presidency. In November, the annual rate of increase was nearly 6%.

Critics argue that drug makers will respond to the IRA drug rebates the way hospitals and physicians responded to Medicare lowering their fees: by passing the cost on to the privately insured. “Private health plans paid hospitals 224% of Medicare rates in 2020, according to a Rand Corp. study. Between 2013 and 2018, prices paid to providers increased at double the rate for commercial insurers as for Medicare fee for service.”


Driven by a wave of populism which echoed similar movements in the U.S., the United Kingdom voted in 2016 to leave the European Union (which eventually happened in 2020). Now the British public is having buyer's remorse. (Financial Times)

Chart: Financial Times

British public opinion on Brexit has shifted, with recent National Centre for Social Research polls averaging 56% in favor of rejoining the EU, though individual polls range from 49% to 60%. A UK in a Changing Europe and Public First report indicates 22% of “Leave” voters think Brexit turned out badly, compared to 18% who think it went well.

The UK's economic performance has lagged behind other major advanced economies since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is partly attributable to post-Brexit trade barriers and restrictions on hiring low-wage migrant workers. As of the first quarter of 2023, the UK's GDP was still 0.5% below the level of the fourth quarter of 2019, before the pandemic.

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