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The Morning Dispatch: The Clock May Be Ticking on our Semiannual Time Changes
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The Morning Dispatch: The Clock May Be Ticking on our Semiannual Time Changes

The good, the bad, and the ugly of making Daylight Saving Time permanent.

Happy Wednesday! We want to thank those of you who tried to tune into Dispatch Live last night for bearing with us through our continued technical difficulties. We’re optimistic we’ll be able to isolate the root of the problem by next week.

Hopefully you—like Steve—used your freed-up hour to catch the end of the most dramatic season finale in Bachelor history. [Editor’s note: Projection much, Declan?]

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • The U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights reported Tuesday the number of confirmed civilian casualties in Ukraine has risen to 1,834, including 691 dead and 1,143 injured. Most of the casualties have been caused by missile strikes and shelling from heavy artillery, and the agency continues to believe the true figures are “considerably higher.” Several journalists covering the war have been killed in recent days as well, including Fox News cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski, freelance filmmaker Brent Renaud, and Ukrainian reporter Oleksandra Kuvshinova. Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson shared the final message he received from Pierre: “I will effort to get as much of this on TV to help Ukrainians in every way possible. Keep Smiling.”

  • In his nightly address to the nation, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said yesterday that Russia’s demands in ceasefire negotiations have become “more realistic” in recent days, but that “time is still needed for the decisions to be in Ukraine’s interests.” Tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians have been able to evacuate cities under siege through humanitarian corridors in the past 24 hours, he added. Zelensky is set to deliver a virtual address to Congress later this morning.

  • The White House announced Tuesday President Joe Biden will travel to Brussels, Belgium, next week and attend NATO and European Council summits being convened in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

  • The European Union announced a fourth tranche of sanctions targeting Russia on Tuesday, including a ban on European luxury goods exports, new restrictions on investment in the Russian energy sector, and the breaking off of normal trade relations. The United Kingdom revoked its most favored nation status with Russia, and added nearly 400 Russian and Belarusian oligarchs and elites to its list of sanctions. The U.S. Treasury Department also imposed additional sanctions on Tuesday, targeting Belarusian dictator Aleksander Lukashenko and his family, as well as several other Russian officials. The Kremlin retaliated yesterday by placing largely symbolic sanctions on President Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and several other administration officials.

  • Blinken announced Tuesday the United States will provide another $186 million in humanitarian assistance to support Ukrainian refugees and those displaced within Ukraine. The funding, Blinken said, will “flow through independent humanitarian organizations” and go toward family reunification and the provision of food, water, protection, shelter, and health care. The U.N.  believes more than 3 million Ukrainians have now fled the country due to the conflict.

  • South Korea’s military reported Wednesday that an attempted North Korean missile test this morning appeared to have “failed” immediately after launch. The Pentagon warned last week Pyongyang appears to be developing a new intercontinental ballistic missile system.

  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday the producer price index—a measure of what suppliers and wholesalers are charging their customers—increased 0.8 percent in February on a seasonally adjusted basis, a slight downtick from January’s 1.2 percent month-over-month increase. On an annual basis, PPI inflation remained at record highs of 10 percent.

  • Gas prices appear to have plateaued for now as the WTI crude benchmark fell back below $100 per barrel on Tuesday, down nearly 30 percent from last week’s highs. “It’s only time before we sink back under $4/gal average as long as these levels hold,” said GasBuddy oil and refined products analyst Patrick De Haan.

  • One day after Sen. Joe Manchin announced he would not support former Treasury Department official Sarah Bloom Raskin’s confirmation to the Federal Reserve Board due to her opposition to fossil fuels, the White House confirmed on Tuesday it had formally withdrawn her nomination. The Senate voted 61-32 on Tuesday to confirm Shalanda Young as director of the Office of Management and Budget.

  • The Justice Department unsealed an indictment against Russian oligarch Andrey Muraviev on Monday, charging him with making illegal political contributions as a foreign national and conspiring with former Rudy Giuliani associates Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman, and others to do so. Muraviev “attempted to influence the 2018 elections by conspiring to push a million dollars of his foreign funds to candidates and campaigns,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said. He is believed to be in Russia and unlikely to be extradited.

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

(Photo by David Pollack/Corbis via Getty Images)

We may have just sprung forward for the (second to) last time.

In a proceeding that took less than 30 seconds on Tuesday afternoon, the Senate—by unanimous consent—passed Sen. Marco Rubio’s Sunshine Protection Act, moving the United States one step closer to making daylight saving time (DST) permanent. Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema—whose home state of Arizona does not observe DST—was presiding over the Senate when Rubio made his request, and let loose an audible “yes!” when none of her colleagues objected to the motion.

“Just this past weekend, we all went through that biannual ritual of changing the clock back and forth, and the disruption that comes with it,” Rubio said on the Senate floor. “And one has to ask themselves after a while, ‘Why do we keep doing it? Why are we doing this?’”

Daylight saving time was first established in the United States  in a (possibly misguided) effort to conserve energy during World War I. If the sun set later in the day, the theory went, people wouldn’t use quite as much fuel in the evenings to light and heat their homes. States conducted their own experiments, but federal DST remained purely a wartime phenomenon in the United States until 1966, when Congress—under pressure from the transportation industry to resolve inconsistencies—passed the Uniform Time Act and established clocks would be advanced an hour on the last Sunday in April and wound back an hour the last Sunday of October. DST has continued to claw away at standard time in the several decades since: After reforms in 1986 and 2005, we now turn clocks forward on the second Sunday in March and back on the first Sunday in November. (Getting Halloween inside the lines was big for the candy industry.)

Under Rubio’s proposal, we’d go through the whole rigamarole twice more and then never again. “We’re delaying it until November of 2023 because of airlines, the rails, and transportation methods,” the Florida senator said. “They’ve asked for a few months here … to make that adjustment.”

The bill’s sponsors readily concede this is “not the most important issue” facing the country, but proponents of doing away with the back and forth can point to plenty of reasons to stop messing with Americans’ sleep twice a year. A 1999 study from Stanford and Johns Hopkins researchers, for example, found a “significant” increase in car accidents on the Mondays immediately following both time shifts. More recent data find moving the clocks forward to be correlated with jumps in both workplace injuries and heart attacks

But doing away with the biannual changes requires lawmakers to pick a time—either daylight saving or standard—and make it permanent, which is where things get contentious. The legislation that advanced yesterday chose the former, siding with the leisure and recreational industries that would benefit from later sunsets. There are other benefits, too: Researchers have found shifting our finite daylight from the morning to the evening is associated with reductions in both crime and seasonal depression, as well as surges in children’s activity levels. It also just feels nicer to leave the office for the day when the sun is still up.

But there are some downsides to permanent DST, which we will lay out for you here to head off Scott Lincicome in the comments. First off, that “extra” hour of sunlight at the end of the day obviously has to come from somewhere—the morning. That’s not a problem for newsletter writers who work late into the night and are rarely up before 9 a.m., but it is a problem for, say, young kids who need to catch a bus or ride their bike to school. In Wisconsin, for example, permanent DST would mean sunrises between 8 and 8:30 a.m. from late November to mid-February.

“It’s great for Florida. They’re in the right longitude and the right latitude,” Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi told reporters yesterday. “There’s kids in Minnesota and Nebraska and Montana that are going to catch the school bus in the pitch dark, and I worry about that. … [But] I hope it works out wonderfully.”

Standard time is also more in line with our bodies’ natural circadian rhythm. “DST is less well-aligned with intrinsic human circadian physiology, and it disrupts the natural seasonal adjustment of the human clock due to the effect of late-evening light on the circadian rhythm,” the American Academy of Sleep Medicine claims. “A change to permanent standard time is best aligned with human circadian biology and has the potential to produce beneficial effects for public health and safety.”

There’s also the pesky reality that Congress did this once before—and Americans did not like it. Pitched in 1973 as a “two-year experiment” to lessen the effects of the OPEC-led fuel embargo, the Emergency Daylight Savings Time Energy Conservation Act was repealed in 1974. Its approval rating, according to University of Chicago polling, had fallen from 79 percent in December 1973 to 42 percent in February 1974. Although the Department of Transportation did not uncover a causal relationship between darker mornings and an increase in traffic fatalities involving school-age children, there was a general sense that the two were linked.

For any of this to matter, however, the Senate-passed bill has to advance through the House, where smooth sailing is not guaranteed. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has reportedly not yet committed to holding a vote on the measure. “The bill just passed this afternoon and we are reviewing it closely,” one of her spokesmen said.

But Rubio seemed optimistic. “We can get this passed. We don’t have to keep doing this stupidity anymore,” he said on the Senate floor. “Hopefully, this is the year that this gets done. And pardon the pun, but this is an idea whose time has come.”

Worth Your Time

  • Sebastian Mallaby, a senior fellow for international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote a piece a few weeks ago making the case against Sarah Bloom Raskin’s confirmation to the Fed Board. “Because there is no political consensus on climate policy in Congress, Raskin’s proposal to pursue climate policy by other means is seductive,” he writes. “But precisely because climate policy is so politically fraught, the Fed cannot wade into these waters without getting caught in the crosscurrents. Apolitical, effective public agencies are a national asset. But if their mandates stretch too much, they become political and ineffective. … Determined central bankers can resist [political attacks] by wrapping themselves in the mantle of apolitical stability. They stand for sound money and sound banks, and in the end few politicians can be against either of these propositions. But if central bankers are perceived to stray into politics, this defense will be undone. Raskin’s proposed expansion of the Fed’s mandate is well intentioned, to be sure. The timing, however, is terrible.”

  • The voting itself is still a few years off, but in many ways, the 2024 Republican presidential primary has already begun—and some contenders are trying to find ways to move past Trump without alienating his voters. “Over the past few weeks, three would-be presidential candidates who hail from the conservative wing of the Republican Party—Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, former Vice President Mike Pence and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis—have prodded at or even outright criticized the former president’s record,” Alex Isenstadt notes for Politico. “After spending years lavishing praise on Trump and touting his policies, they are zeroing in on key moments from his tenure in office, from his pandemic response, to his words and actions regarding Russia, to the prison reform legislation he signed into law. Unlike several potential 2024 contenders who hail from the more moderate wing of the GOP, the three are being guarded in their criticism of Trump. But each critique has attracted special attention given the near-lockstep party support Trump has commanded for years. Taken together, they highlight how the prospective candidates are staking out calculated distance from Trump with an eye toward establishing their own political identities, making clear that they aren’t carbon copies of the former president and signaling to donors and party activists that they’re serious about running in 2024.”

  • Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers believes the Federal Reserve—which is expected to announce a 0.25-percentage point interest rate hike later today—is charting a course to stagflation and recession. “Central to success in fighting inflation is establishing credibility that a new paradigm is in place. Recognizing failed strategies, and then abandoning them, is the first step,” he writes for the Washington Post. “I hope the Fed will make clear that inflation reduction is its principle objective, and that it will wind down efforts to promote worthy but nonmonetary goals such as social justice and environmental protection. This implies committing to doing whatever is necessary with interest rates to bring down inflation, including movements of more than a quarter-point at some meetings and a rapid reduction of its balance sheet. It also means recognizing that unemployment is likely to rise sometime over the next couple of years. Paul Volcker would not have had to put the economy through the wringer if his predecessors had not lost their focus on inflation. To avoid stagflation and the associated loss of public confidence in our country now, the Fed has to do more than merely to adjust its policy dials—it will have to head in a dramatically different direction.”

Presented Without Comment

Also Presented Without Comment

Also Also Presented Without Comment

Toeing the Company Line

  • Nearly 400 of you have already signed up for the TMD March Madness pool! If you want to participate, click here to enter your bracket on ESPN by Thursday morning, and then fill out this form so we can connect you with your ESPN entry and send the winners their prizes.

  • Reminder: The Dispatch is looking to hire a social media marketing manager! If you’re interested—or know someone who might be—check out the job listing here.

  • In addition to an excerpt of Harvest’s profile of Jaime Herrera Beutler (which you should really read if you haven’t yet!), yesterday’s Uphill features a quick look at a bipartisan bill introduced by top members on the Senate health committee seeking to shore up the United States’ ability to respond to future health threats. “Details of the package are likely to change before coming to the Senate floor,” Haley writes, “but it has good odds of advancing given its high-profile sponsors.”

  • In this week’s Sweep (🔒), Sarah wraps up her two-part series on cage-free eggs, ballot initiatives, and the power of persuasion. “The cage free egg movement isn’t viewed as a particularly partisan issue like climate change or gun ownership,” she notes. “But it could have been. Teaming up with a political party can bring a lot of attention and salience to an issue. It can mean access to donors, members of Congress, White House staff. Of course, it can also lead to culture war-driven gridlock as people dig in with their tribe.”

  • David’s Tuesday French Press (🔒) tackles the thorniness of free speech in public schools. “Respect for liberty isn’t innate. It has to be taught,” he writes. “And I fear that our current educational culture wars are doing exactly the opposite. They’re teaching students and parents that the government power is the answer to their intellectual or emotional discomfort. Rather than raising children to engage in debate, we’re teaching them to mimic authoritarian adults.”

  • On the site today, Andrew Fink reports on what we can learn about the Ukrainian resistance in occupied areas such as Kherson and Melitopol by looking at videos emerging on social media as well as from the messaging by Russian propagandists.

Let Us Know

Do you think we should stop changing the clocks twice a year? If so, would you prefer permanent daylight saving time or permanent standard time? Why?

Reporting by Declan Garvey (@declanpgarvey), Charlotte Lawson (@lawsonreports), and Steve Hayes (@stephenfhayes).

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The Dispatch Staff