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July 22, 2015

If there's anything most presidential candidates can agree on, it's that Americans are generally "hardworking." It's a nearly constant point of positive reference. But are we working too much?

Over at Demos, Matt Bruenig came up with a clever way of thinking about this. In general, as countries become richer and more productive, they work less and less, since they can produce more with the same effort. Plot hours worked per person versus GDP per hour worked, and you can produce a trend line. Those above the line work unusually hard, while those under it do the opposite.

So who works the hardest, controlling for relative wealth? Americans, by far:

(Demos)

Always remember: The U.S. could easily afford a great deal more vacation days. Ryan Cooper

9:36 p.m. ET
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The Congressional Budget Office estimates that if the Senate Republicans' "skinny repeal" bill passes, getting rid of ObamaCare's individual and employer mandates, it could result in 16 million Americans losing their health insurance.

It's not entirely clear yet what is in the "skinny bill," as it won't be released until after a voting session that is expected to start Thursday, but a senior Democratic aide told The Hill the CBO said if the bill includes defunding Planned Parenthood and repealing the Community Health Center Fund and Prevention and Public Health Fund, premiums would be about 20 percent higher every year than under the current law.

Senate Democrats released the CBO's estimate on Wednesday evening, after the Senate rejected in a vote of 45-55 a proposal to repeal ObamaCare without immediately replacing it. On Tuesday, the Senate also voted against a modified version of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's plan to replace and replace ObamaCare. It is unclear if McConnell has enough votes for the skinny repeal bill to pass. Catherine Garcia

8:33 p.m. ET
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Foxconn, the giant Taiwanese electronics manufacturer and a major supplier to Apple for iPhones, will open a 20-million square foot plant in southeast Wisconsin, the company announced Wednesday.

Over four years, the company will invest $10 billion to build the plant, which could employ up to 13,000 people and will make LCD display panel screens. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) said the state will award $3 billion in incentives for the project, with the package needing approval from state legislature. He also said it will be the largest economic development in Wisconsin history, Reuters reports.

During a ceremony at the White House with Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou, President Trump took credit for the plant, saying, "If I didn't get elected, he definitely wouldn't be spending $10 billion…this is a great day for America." Catherine Garcia

7:55 p.m. ET
Federico Parra/AFP/Getty Images

In an attempt to pressure Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro into canceling this Sunday's election to choose members of an assembly that will rewrite the country's constitution, the United States on Wednesday imposed new sanctions on 13 current and former government officials, military officers, and managers at the state-run oil company.

They are being accused of undermining democracy, corruption, and alleged human rights abuses, The Guardian reports. The targeted officials include Nestor Reverol, who in 2016 was indicted in the U.S. on drug trafficking charges and the next day was promoted to interior ministry for security; army chief Jesus Suarez; and national police director Carlos Perez. Maduro said the Venezuelan government does not "recognize any sanctions," and the vote is still on.

Opposition leaders are boycotting the vote, which they believe will push Venezuela into an authoritarian regime; Maduro said instead, it will usher in peace following months of deadly anti-government protests. Catherine Garcia

7:09 p.m. ET
Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Kristin Beck knows what it's like to be in the military — over the course of her 20-year career as a Navy SEAL, she was deployed 13 times to places like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Bosnia, and received the Bronze Star for valor and Purple Heart for wounds suffered in combat.

Beck is a transgender veteran, and wants President Trump to know that his decision to ban transgender people from the U.S. military will have a negative impact on many, and there's no reason for this policy. "Being transgender doesn't affect anyone else," Beck, a member of SEAL Team 6, told Business Insider on Wednesday. "We are liberty's light. If you can't defend that for everyone that's an American citizen, that's not right."

In 2016, the RAND Corporation estimated there are between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender people serving in the military, and Beck, who was born Christopher Beck, said any unit with a good leader wouldn't have any issues with transgender troops. "I can have a Muslim serving right beside Jerry Falwell, and we're not going to have a problem," she said. "It's a leadership issue, not a transgender issue." What really bothers Beck is that Trump claimed his decision was partly based on the cost of services that could be used by transgender service members. "The money is negligible," she told Business Insider. "You're talking about .000001 percent of the military budget. They care more about the airplane or the tank than they care about people. They don't care about people. They don't care about human beings." Catherine Garcia

5:18 p.m. ET
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Sean Spicer tendered his resignation as White House press secretary last Friday, calling his time in the position "an honor and a privilege." While he'll stay in the White House through August, Spicer was spotted in New York City on Wednesday morning, where he was reportedly meeting with several TV networks, possibly in pursuit of a post-government gig.

But the most interesting option by far came from Page Six on Wednesday, when the site reported Spicer might be in talks to take his theatric personality to an actual stage: Reality dancing competition Dancing with the Stars has reached out to the former spokesman about appearing on the show, Page Six claims. "That has legs," an unnamed "TV insider" told Page Six of Spicer possibly cha-cha-ing on the hit ABC show.

When reached by Page Six on Wednesday about the rumor, Spicer said, "I have no comment." ABC told Page Six they "don't comment on casting."

But ... we can hope, right? Kimberly Alters

4:55 p.m. ET

On Wednesday, after Senate Republicans failed for the second time to repeal ObamaCare, even former Fox News staple Bill O'Reilly had to admit his pessimism. "Health care, not going to happen," O'Reilly tweeted. "The Republican Party cannot get it together."

O'Reilly was the leading host on Fox News until he was ousted amid sexual harassment allegations in April. Earlier this week, he defended President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner against allegations of Russia collusion by arguing Kushner is simply too baby-faced to be "fixing elections with Putin."

So, conservatives: When even Bill O'Reilly can't muster a defense for you, that might be a bad sign. Kimberly Alters

4:25 p.m. ET
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On Wednesday, the Senate rejected a proposal to repeal ObamaCare without an immediate replacement, 45-55. Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Susan Collins (Maine), Dean Heller (Nev.), John McCain (Ariz.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), and Rob Portman (Ohio) joined all Democrats in voting down the measure.

After rejecting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare on Tuesday, senators will now move on to a "skinny repeal" plan, which would scrap ObamaCare's individual and employer mandates as well as the medical device tax, but leave everything else in place. The proposal has the best chance of allowing Senate Republicans to pass a bill — any bill — which would allow them to move on to conference with the House, where they could assemble a more comprehensive repeal plan.

The "skinny repeal" plan could face a vote by the end of the week. Kimberly Alters

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