Tuesday, February 7, 2023
Cameron Hood, Newsletter EditorCameron Hood
Newsletter Editor
Welcome to Grid Today, bringing you context and clarity on the most important stories of the day. In today’s newsletter: 
Also: Grid reporters tell me what they’re watching for tonight. And stay tuned for a special SOTU edition of this newsletter tomorrow morning.

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What we’re watching: State of the Union edition

For today’s newsletter, I asked Grid reporters from across the newsroom one question: What will you be watching for in tonight’s address? Here’s what they said.

🇨🇳 China

I've seen reports that Biden will reference the
Chinese spy balloon, so I'll be looking to see whether his tone is more strident or conciliatory. I also expect to hear Biden tout the Inflation Reduction Act and chips policies as key to competing with China on green technology and semiconductors. Lili Pike, China reporter 

🌎 Climate

President Biden has some climate change achievements to point to now — the
Inflation Reduction Act and its hundreds of billions in clean energy funding chief among them. But warming continues and emissions aren’t dropping fast enough as fossil fuel companies rake in huge profits. Will the president rest on 2022’s progress in his speech, or lay out a vision for even more ambitious climate action? Dave Levitan, climate reporter 

📈 Economics 

I’m looking for what Biden says about the
debt ceiling. As of now, the White House has been adamant that they don’t want to negotiate over the full faith and credit of the United States, while House Republicans, whose votes will be necessary for any debt ceiling bill, have been equally adamant that they won’t pass a debt ceiling increase without some kind of spending cut or reforms. I don’t expect any huge breakthroughs, but this is a chance for Biden to lay down a marker — or show that he’s open to some kind of negotiation. Matthew Zeitlin, domestic economics reporter 

🏛 Policy + Politics

We can expect Biden to do some bragging tonight about his big wins, like green energy. But I’m curious: How does Biden address (or not) those weaker policy areas, like immigration, that
Republicans are targeting heading into 2024? Those moments could be previews of the election season to come. Maggie Severns, domestic policy reporter 

President Biden's address is expected to focus on a “
unity agenda” aimed at uniting the two parties, even as House Republicans are beginning to launch oversight investigations of his administration. I'll be looking to see how Republicans react to Biden's proposals. Steve Reilly, investigative reporter 

Biden unveiled a
new border policy, but critics say it is overly reliant on Title 42 and fails to address the humanitarian crisis at the border. So, I’ll be keeping an eye out for any mention of what the future of Title 42 might look like. Khaya Himmelman, reporter 

I’ll be keeping an eye on what President Biden, who
has asked Congress to ban assault weapons in the past, has to say about gun violence. Some critics hope to see more action, in addition to the administration’s recent strides, that might include appointing a gun czar or declaring a national emergency. Anna Deen, data visualization reporter 

🩺  Public Health

I’ll be paying close attention to how Biden talks about abortion and whether he previews stronger federal actions to protect access, like
declaring a public health emergency. Biden’s cancer moonshot initiative just turned 1, and I’ll be listening for new details on the administration’s push to cut cancer-related deaths by half over the next 25 years. Jonathan Lambert, public health reporter 

First Lady Jill Biden has a couple from Texas
joining her tonight who experienced the negative impacts of doctors not having clarity on abortion laws, specifically when it comes to miscarriages. I’m keeping an eye out to see if Biden will speak on the public sentiment about abortion. Sophie Tatum, politics reporter
🇺🇦 Ukraine

American public support for Ukraine is still
quite high and the president will undoubtedly get bipartisan applause for saluting the country’s bravery and resilience. But I’ll still be interested to hear how he defines the extent of America’s support for Ukraine’s war goals. Will he commit to the retaking of all of Ukraine’s internationally recognized territory —including Crimea, a goal the Pentagon seems skeptical that the Ukrainians can manage any time soon — or make a more vague declaration of support, which could indicate at least the possibility of a push for negotiations in the coming months. Joshua Keating, global security reporter 

🦾 Tech

I’m going to be watching for any announcements around plans to take action on
Section 230, the internet law that everyone loves to hate, as well as any further antitrust proposals, given the FTC and other federal bodies have stepped up their actions in this area in recent years. Finally, artificial intelligence. The administration has been vocal about the need to stay competitive in the field of AI as it’s increasingly been a part of geopolitics. Benjamin Powers, technology reporter 


The Chinese spy balloon crisis may be over, but what is the lasting damage to US-China relations?

A giant Chinese surveillance balloon crossing the U.S. – which a U.S. F-22 fighter jet shot down on Saturday off the coast of South Carolina – led to Secretary of State Antony Blinken cancelling his much-anticipated upcoming trip to Beijing.

Instead of reporting on Blinken’s trip this week, China reporter Lili Pike turned to the experts she had expected to interview about the visit with a different question: How much damage has the spy balloon done?


The context on what you need to know today:


Have a question? Send it to me, and you might see it answered in a future newsletter. Check out a previous edition for a reader question featured here.


The most popular articles for Grid readers:
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👋 That’s all for today. See you tomorrow. –Cameron

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