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Inauguration snack, stimulus plan under attack, on class people look back

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By Jasper Cox
22 Jan 2021

This week in Keeping Tabs: disagreement over stimulus in the US, a treat for the end of Trump, and how people present their backgrounds.

Last week Keeping Tabs noted Joe Biden's stimulus plan. But in a week of much talk about the need for unity in US politics as Biden was inaugurated as president, there's little evidence of a bipartisan unified spirit spreading to policy debates.

"The Senate GOP says Biden’s proposal spends too much money and comes too soon on the heels of Congress’ $900bn stimulus package from last month," writes Burgess Everett for Politico. "And that unless the proposal has major changes made to it or Democrats use budget reconciliation to pass it with a simple majority, it is doomed on the Senate floor."

Everett says that Republican opposition to the plan indicates that securing the next lot of Covid-19 relief will be at least as tricky as it was for the last, which took more than six months.

The Democrats do have a majority in the Senate after the Georgia wins earlier this month — to add to their majority in the House — and could rely on a procedural tool to bypass a filibuster from the Republicans. But it is not clear whether they will choose to do this.

Given that markets have identified US stimulus plans as key to the economic growth and inflation outlook, prepare for Senate wrangles to remain high up in the newsfeed.

Meanwhile, as the eyes of the world set upon Washington DC for the second time in a matter of weeks for Biden's inauguration, the UK's own Nigella Lawson chose a fitting recipe of the day for her millions of followers on Twitter. What did the chef recommend? Bitter orange tart.

Finally, are you working class? Class dynamics are infamously heated and complex in the UK, and adding to the love/hate relationship the country has when it comes to discussion of the topic, many employers — including in the City — now face pressure to pick a more diverse workforce.

Still, class is hard to define — can you self-identify? In The Guardian, Sam Friedman reports that almost half of all Britons in middle-class professional and managerial jobs identify as working class. And a quarter of people in those jobs whose parents had middle-class jobs still identify as working class.

According to Friedman, when people are asked about their backgrounds, they reach for origin stories that downplay their own relatively lucky upbringings and focus on extended family histories instead.

"The privileged face competing pressures: they must on one hand ward off suspicions that their achievements have been accelerated by inherited advantage, and on the other answer to a policy agenda that presents the upwardly mobile as meritocracy’s winners," he writes. "Their answer, it seems, is to reach for extended family histories that allow them to tell an upwardly mobile story."

By Jasper Cox
22 Jan 2021