Apr 13, 2021

Axios AM

☕ Good Tuesday morning. Smart Brevity™ count: 886 words ... 3½ minutes.

💻 Please join Axios' Kim Hart and Aja Whitaker-Moore tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. ET for a virtual event on the flexible workplace future, with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Twitch chief people officer Lenke Taylor. Sign up here.

1 big thing: Biden aims big on health care

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democrats hope to add a huge array of health spending to upcoming legislation, including ACA subsidies and allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription prices, Axios Vitals author Caitlin Owens reports.

  • Why it matters: The next few months may give Democrats the opportunity to walk the walk after campaigning extensively on health care for years, and to plug some of the glaring holes in the system that were exposed by the pandemic.

President Biden is preparing a giant package of family-related policies, including health care.

  • Speaker Pelosi is pushing the White House to prioritize a permanent expansion of the ACA's premium subsidies, the WashPost reports. The last coronavirus package expanded them through 2022.
  • Some Democrats want to find a way to provide health insurance to poor adults in states that haven't expanded Medicaid, per Politico.

More controversial moves are on the table, including lowering the Medicare eligibility age — which Sen. Bernie Sanders is pushing for, The Post reports. Hospitals strongly oppose that change.

  • Sanders is also pressing to expand Medicare benefits to include dental, vision and hearing care.

The bottom line: Passing any combination of these policies would be a big deal.

2. Minnesota re-erupts
A demonstrator heckles police in Brooklyn Center, Minn., last night. Photo: John Minchillo/AP

Minnesota's raw rage played out on the world's TV screens last night, as cable-news reporters choked on tear gas and furious demonstrators used the f-word live on both CNN and MSNBC.

  • Police clashed with protesters in Brooklyn Center — about 10 miles from the Derek Chauvin trial — after a Black man, Daunte Wright, 20, was killed by an officer who, authorities say, intended to fire a Taser.

"Authorities fired multiple rounds of tear gas, along with rubber bullets and flash grenades," the Star Tribune reports. "Protesters dispersed from areas hit by tear gas were regrouping and retaliating by throwing water bottles and launching fireworks."

  • Earlier, 300 people attended a peaceful vigil for Wright at the site of the traffic stop, the Star Tribune adds: "Several pastors prayed for the Wright family, and trumpet player Butchy Austin, who lives near George Floyd Square, ended the vigil with 'Amazing Grace.' ... Wright's mother, his brother and grandfather addressed the crowd."
CNN's Sara Sidner interviews an enraged protester.

Tragically, gun confusion is a known issue, as Axios Twin Cities notes:

  • AP, 2015: "Stun gun or handgun: How often do police get confused?"
  • AP, 2016: "Gun or stun gun? Different police responses raise questions."
  • AP, today: "How does an officer use a gun instead of a Taser?"
3. Ad industry's COVID comeback
Expand chart
Data: GroupM. Chart: Will Chase/Axios

The ad industry, plagued last year by pandemic-driven budget cuts, is poised to return stronger than ever in 2021 and beyond, Axios Media Trends author Sara Fischer writes.

  • The quick turnaround means that the ad market is recovering faster than it did following the 2008 recession.

What's next: Analysts are optimistic that in-person activities — sporting events, live entertainment and travel — will return faster than expected, driving marketing opportunities.

  • The Summer Olympics is expected to fuel $800 million in ad spending, ad agency Magna estimates.
  • The strongest ad growth is expected from the travel, automotive, beverages, and movie categories.

📡 Sign up for Sara Fischer's weekly Axios Media Trends, out later today.

4. Ramadan begins

Photo: Mohd Rasfan/AFP via Getty Images

As the holy month of Ramadan began, Muslims practiced social distancing while reciting evening prayers yesterday at the Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin Mosque in Putrajaya, Malaysia.

5. Axios interview: Intel CEO calls for "moonshot"

President Joe Biden holds up a silicon wafer during a CEO Summit on Semiconductor and Supply Chain Resilience in the Roosevelt Room yesterday. Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP

In an interview with Ina Fried and me, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger called for the U.S. to spend billions of dollars over the next few years as part of a "moonshot" to regain lost ground in semiconductor manufacturing.

  • The goal is for the U.S. to account for a third of global output, up from 12%.

Why it matters: Investments made now will take several years to bear fruit, so they won't do much to ease the current semiconductor shortage. But they're vital to America's long-term economic and national security.

  • "The most important building block for our economic livelihood — and every aspect of human life — is now increasingly not in our control," Gelsinger told us after a White House meeting.

Keep reading.

6. Microsoft's leapfrog
Data: CB Insights. Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Microsoft announced yesterday that it'll buy Nuance Communications, a software company that focuses on speech recognition through AI, for $19.7 billion, Axios' Sara Fischer reports.

  • It's Microsoft's second-largest acquisition after the $26.2 billion deal for LinkedIn in 2016.

Why it matters: Microsoft is trying to leapfrog competitors — Google, Amazon — as they face record antitrust scrutiny.

7. Charted: Rise of domestic extremism
Source: CSIS and Washington Post reporting. Graphic: Leslie Shapiro/The Washington Post. Used by kind permission

73 far-right incidents (threats, burnings, bombings, etc.) recorded in the U.S. in 2020 marked an annual high in at least 25 years, The Washington Post reports from a CSIS database that goes back to 1994.

  • The attacks were "driven chiefly by white-supremacist, anti-Muslim and anti-government extremists."

Keep reading.

8. 😱 Stunning stat: Deficit doubles

The U.S. budget deficit in the first half of the fiscal year (Oct.-March) more than doubled from the same period a year ago, The Wall Street Journal's John McCormick reports (subscription).

  • The budget gap — $1.7 trillion for six months — was driven by pandemic shutdowns and a third round of stimulus checks.
9. 🎥 Hollywood landmarks close forever

Fans made pilgrimages to the Cinerama Dome in L.A. yesterday. Photo: Chris Pizzello/AP

Pacific Theaters — which operates some 300 screens in California, including the beloved ArcLight theaters and the historic Cinerama Dome in Hollywood — said yesterday that it won't reopen.

  • The ArcLight theaters were a favorite of entertainment industry professionals and celebrities, AP reports.
  • The Cinerama, a concrete geodesic dome on Sunset Boulevard, is a monument and tourist attraction — featured in Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood," and decorated for premieres.
Movie-trailer editor David Blanchard, once a regular, stands outside the boarded-up ArcLight Cinemas Hollywood. Photo: Chris Pizzello/AP
10. 1 slice thing: Do you tip the pizza robot?

Photo: Domino's

Domino's, the world's largest pizza company based on global retail sales, this week begins autonomous pizza delivery in Houston.

  • Some customers who place a prepaid order from Domino's in Woodland Heights will be able to choose to have their pies delivered by an R2 robot from Nuro, the self-driving delivery company.

Nuro says it's the first fully autonomous, occupant-less on-road delivery vehicle approved by the Department of Transportation.

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