A bipartisan group of United States Senators wrote a letter Sunday calling for expanding payroll assistance to struggling local newspapers and broadcast stations that have seen reduced advertising revenue during the nation’s coronavirus epidemic.
U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), John Kennedy (R-LA) and John Boozman (R-AR) have requested that Senate leaders amend the rules of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) in order to make thousands of local newspapers and television and radio stations eligible for assistance.
Many local outlets across the nation are currently ineligible for the funding because they are owned by parent companies too large to qualify, particularly in local television (i.e. Sinclair, Nexstar, TEGNA).
“Ensuring that local news outlets remain viable at this critical time is not only a matter of fairness, but is essential to public health,” the senators wrote in their letter.
Louisiana newspapers and broadcasters have been hit hard. ⁰
The bipartisan group of four senators added that local newspapers have lost as much as 50 percent of advertising revenue. Meanwhile, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) says some local broadcasters have reported as much as a 90 percent loss in ad revenue.
“Waiving SBA’s affiliation rules for local newspapers and broadcasters and ensuring that financial assistance flows to the local affiliate, not the parent company, would allow these small, local operations to be eligible for much-needed financial relief. Local newspapers and broadcasters have been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, are essential for maintaining a well-informed public, and deserve our help,” the senators wrote.
According to Reuters, “tens of thousands of local media workers are being forced to take unpaid furloughs or seeing cuts to paychecks, while other outlets are shrinking staff and reducing the frequency of printing, and some smaller newspapers in California, Vermont and South Dakota are closing.”
This is what it looks like when a pandemic collides with the culture wars in America.
The mayor of Louisville, Ky., warned churches that holding services on Easter Sunday would defy the city’s social distancing guidelines. Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and Senate majority leader, answered with a stern letter, arguing, “Religious people should not be singled out for disfavored treatment.”
The Democratic governor in Michigan extended bans on certain outdoor activities to include using motorboats. Conservatives called her an authoritarian and caricatured her move as a slap at people who enjoy the outdoors. “You can’t go fishing,” a local activist lamented in an interview on “Fox & Friends.”
And even though firearms stores remain free to do business in most of the country, the National Rifle Association has a stark message for gun owners. “They want your guns. They want ’em all,” declared the country music legend Charlie Daniels in a promotional video he recorded for the N.R.A. from quarantine at his home in Tennessee.
The new patchwork of state and local policies designed to flatten the spread of the coronavirus is inflaming old passions over some of the most contentious issues in politics. Guns, abortion, voting rights and religious expression — concerns that would seem to have little to do with a virus that has sickened millions of Americans and killed more than 37,000 — have emerged as fault lines in the debate over how government is responding to the crisis.
President Trump does on occasion speak about the importance of social distancing, as he did on Monday, but he is also encouraging discontent, seeing it as a source of raw emotion he can tap as protesters across the country wave “Trump 2020” flags and demand that the country reopen. With messages last week to his Twitter followers to “LIBERATE” states where residents are now under orders to limit their movement — specifically, Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia, all led by Democratic governors — he is feeding what conservatives described as a rising sense of restlessness on the right.
“There’s a tremendous amount of social unrest,” said Jeff Landry, the Republican attorney general of Louisiana and an ally of Mr. Trump. “Governors who are using the pandemic as an excuse to keep certain measures in place do so at their own peril.”
For now, Mr. Trump is speaking to the minority of Americans who believe the government has gone too far in trying to contain the threat from the virus. And he is doing so by spreading misinformation and innuendo about how the restrictions affect issues like gun ownership and freedom of worship. He falsely claimed last week, for instance, that the Second Amendment was under threat in Virginia.
Over the weekend he made unfounded insinuations that Muslims celebrating Ramadan, which begins this week, would not be subject to the same social distancing limitations as Christians were on Easter just over a week ago. “I’ve seen a great disparity in this country,” he said. “They go after Christian churches, but they don’t tend to go after mosques.”
So far, a mass uprising seems unlikely. Many of the demonstrations, like one in Denver on Sunday, have drawn only a few hundred people. Larger gatherings, like one at the State Capitol in Lansing, Mich., last week, attracted far-right activists and militia sympathizers, some of whom had semiautomatic rifles slung over their shoulders.
The White House’s own current guidelines reflect what most epidemiologists say: Social distancing, limiting personal contact and wearing masks in public are all crucial to keeping the virus in check. Medical experts, including those advising Mr. Trump, have warned that easing these guidelines could lead to a surge in new infections.
But some conservatives who support the president’s re-election campaign said they believed that many Americans are growing frustrated with the orders that keep them from socializing, working and worshiping normally. The White House is closely tracking those concerns, and has made Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence available on several conference calls with faith leaders to assure them the administration is listening. And after a Mississippi church was penalized for holding drive-in services in defiance of a local order, Attorney General William P. Barr lent his support, saying that congregants’ First Amendment rights were being infringed.
“My sense is that this is a caldron,” said Ralph Reed, the founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and a veteran organizer of the religious right. “It is simply unsustainable to tell people that they have to sit helplessly in their homes watching their businesses go bankrupt, their jobs disappear and their lives destroyed.”
Pointing to a recent survey from the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute that found nearly 90 percent of houses of worship in the country were no longer offering services as usual, Mr. Reed said that there were growing questions among religious conservatives, like “why liquor stores and grocery stores can be open, but their churches are closed.” Mr. Reed added that while he thought most people were still willing to stay home, he saw patience fraying.
Speaking of Democrats, he said, “If they’re not careful, they will take what they think is going to be a referendum on Donald Trump and turn it into a referendum on the denial of basic freedoms and liberties.”
While tensions have flared in the last week, competing political agendas have shaped how leaders approached the enforcement of coronavirus-related restrictions in the past month.
Texas, in particular, has been a laboratory for a conservative pandemic response. Like Ohio, Alabama and a few other states with Republican leadership, Texas initially included abortion among the elective medical procedures it said would have to wait until after the immediate threat of the virus had passed. And as the state started ordering the closure of schools and nonessential businesses late last month, the Republican attorney general, Ken Paxton, warned abortion providers that they would be “met with the full force of the law” if they did not stop operating.
The restriction amounted to an “exploitation of this pandemic,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, one of the groups that sued Texas. Clinics remain closed and the governor has said he will leave it up to the courts to decide whether the easing of restrictions on some medical procedures, set to take effect Wednesday, applies to abortions.
Four days after his admonition to abortion clinics, Mr. Paxton issued an opinion on an unrelated but equally fraught culture war issue, declaring that emergency stay-at-home orders could not be used to force the closure of firearms stores in the state.
The public policy decisions there differ strikingly from states like New York, where Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has declared gun stores to be nonessential businesses. The move prompted a lawsuit from the N.R.A., which is challenging similar actions by lawmakers in New Mexico and California. Conservatives, Mr. Landry said, see these as examples of how “Democrats have basically leveraged this thing to get what they want.”
On other issues ranging from property rights to prison policy, Texas has been at the front lines of the escalating clash between left and right. Conservatives have opposed local efforts to prevent second homeowners from going to their properties and to expand access to voting by mail, which is limited to certain populations like older people and those with disabilities.
The American Civil Liberties Union sued after Gov. Greg Abbott issued an order preventing the release of some inmates at risk of contracting the virus. Mr. Abbott said releasing “dangerous criminals” put the community at risk because it “slows our ability to respond to the disaster caused by Covid-19.” A state court disagreed and temporarily blocked the governor’s order. The A.C.L.U. has filed more than 30 similar lawsuits across the country.
But there are exceptions. Though Republicans in states like Texas and Wisconsin have tried to prevent broader access to alternatives to in-person voting, in Pennsylvania Republicans are supporting it. And in Oklahoma, the Republican governor has approved the release of hundreds of inmates so overcrowded conditions do not contribute to more infections.
“The pandemic held out the hope that we could come together and unite and rise above the partisan division that has so long afflicted us, and I think in some instances we are seeing that,” said David Cole, the A.C.L.U.’s national legal director. He added that instances of large church services and gatherings of hundreds of protesters were outliers so far.
“Which makes it all the more disturbing,” he added, “that the president of the United States encouraged this kind of activity.”
It is not difficult to understand why Mr. Trump feels the impulse to back the demonstrators. Footage of the recent protests shows a significant presence of Trump paraphernalia and an outpouring of support for him. At the Michigan event, which was documented on Facebook by a reporter for The Detroit Free Press, one man waving a Confederate flag explained through his protective mask why he was there. “Trump. Trump all the way,” he said.
Others carried the bumblebee yellow Gadsden flag, its coiled snake and “Don’t tread on me” emblem a symbol of the Tea Party, which Mr. Trump has always felt an affinity toward.
At the protest outside the Colorado State Capitol on Sunday, one woman who said the shutdowns had gone on too long told The Denver Post, “Pot shops are open, abortion clinics are open and my church is closed.”
One man who also attended the protest held a sign that read “Facts not fear,” a variation of the saying that Sean Hannity uses on his radio and Fox News programs — “Facts without fear” — to leave his fans with the false impression that they are getting the truth and nothing but.
The people at these protests have been overwhelmingly white. And while the coronavirus can strike people of any race, nationality, religion or political persuasion, data shows it is infecting and killing black people in the United States at disproportionately high rates.
Its spread also appears to be worsening in some of the states where the protests have taken place. In Kentucky, where last week demonstrators stood outside the Capitol building in Frankfort and chanted “We want to work!” at the Democratic governor, Andy Beshear, officials reported a sobering development on Monday.
The state recorded its highest number of new coronavirus cases yet in a single day: 273.
He acts as though all we need to do is return to the pre-Trump status quo. It’s not so simple.
My progressive friends are uniformly unenthusiastic about Joe Biden having won the contest to become the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee. Their lack of enthusiasm, which more often than not borders on outright dismay, is understandable and appropriate.
For anyone who wants nothing more than to return this country to the status quo ante Trump, Biden might make for an acceptable candidate. He is, after all, a consummate political insider. He knows his lines and he recites them (or reads them off a teleprompter) with apparent conviction. Unlike Trump, he at least sounds presidential. Yet Biden is also a card-carrying member of the political establishment whose myriad failures vaulted Trump into the White House in the first place.
If elected, Biden can be counted on to take the country back to where it was before Trump showed up to spoil the party. My progressive friends are unhappy with that prospect. So should conservatives be as well.
To appreciate what this is likely to mean, consider the essay that the former vice president published in Foreign Affairs just as the coronavirus pandemic was beginning to bite. Bearing the predictable title “Why America Must Lead Again,” the essay, meant to convey Biden’s foreign policy vision, appeared at the tail end of a two-decade period during which American leadership had produced less than reassuring results.
Yet Biden is not one not to tarry over mistakes. So his essay, for example, makes absolutely no mention of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, which as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee he ardently supported—the equivalent of Hubert Humphrey running to succeed Lyndon Johnson in 1968 and pretending the Vietnam War never happened.
While skipping right past Iraq, the would-be commander-in-chief offers a something-for-everyone potpourri of promises, touching on everything from trade and climate change to fighting corruption abroad and “lifting up women and girls around the world.” Prominently featured in this smorgasbord are assurances of his willingness to use force and a vow that when he occupies the Oval Office the United States will continue to possess “the strongest military in the world.” It’s as if a reluctance to employ violence or a shortfall in available striking power has somehow hampered recent U.S. policy.
Yet fully unpacking Biden’s foreign policy vision requires giving due attention to the clichés that he trots out to clinch his argument. History itself, he insists, validates that vision. “This is not a moment for fear,” Biden assures his readers, giving his best imitation of FDR. “This is the time to tap the strength and audacity that took us to victory in two world wars and brought down the Iron Curtain. The triumph of democracy and liberalism over fascism and autocracy created the free world. But this contest does not just define our past. It will define our future, as well.”
Here, in a nutshell, is the narrative that presidents and wannabe presidents routinely employ to divert attention from the complexities and ambiguities of America’s actual role in the world. Define the past as a succession of victories, engineered by the United States and leading to the creation of a “free world”—past, present, and future woven together into a seamless garment. Pretty soon you’ll be pressing for regime change in Venezuela or demanding that the ayatollahs knuckle under to Mike Pompeo’s latest demands.
Biden’s framing of history conveniently excludes all that happened before 1914 or after 1989, while airbrushing more than a little of what happened in between. Does the outcome of World War I qualify as a victory or did it merely set the stage for a) the devastating Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-1919 and b) another war with Germany that turned out to be even worse than the first one? As for defeating fascism, didn’t Josef Stalin, neither democratic nor liberal, lend a hand?
Yet by depicting history as a story of America rising up in glory to thwart distant threats, Biden captures the essence of the past to which establishment politicians, i.e., just about everyone except Donald Trump, instinctively revert in stump speeches or on patriotic occasions.
That Trump himself is manifestly dishonest is no doubt the case. Yet I submit that the dishonesty of Joe Biden and others of his ilk in sanitizing American history poses its own danger. As far as foreign policy is concerned, a Biden presidency is likely to compound the follies that gave us Trump in the first place. For my money, status quo ante Trump is not a good place to be.
Democrats, you owe it to your country to do better than this.
Andrew Bacevich, president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, is TAC’s writer-at-large. His most recent book is The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered Its Cold War Victory.
Many main stream media outlets and cable networks have failed to correct their record of misinformation they delivered to the American people regarding President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, even after evidence continues to surface showing that the dodgy dossier compiled by a former British spy was Russian lies.
Sen. Ron Johnson and Sen. Chuck Grassley’s urging to have acting Director of National Intelligence Rick Grenell and Attorney General William Barr declassify footnotes in Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s December report on the FBI’s handling of the Russia investigation, cleared any speculation that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia.
However, very few so-called mainstream media outlets published the bombshell findings.
The declassified footnotes revealed that the FBI “possessed intelligence reports that stated key portions of the anti-Trump dossier were tainted by Russian disinformation, yet it continued to rely on them to justify Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against Trump campaign aide Carter Page,” the Senators press release Monday stated.
Those footnotes were so damaging to the FBI and intelligence community’s actions that last week, Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Johnson, Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray requesting all the records from the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane team after declassifying the Horowitz footnotes.
Even with all this explosive news over the dossier, very few news outlets have reported or clarified their previous reporting to the American people.
The Senator’s pointed to Eric Wemple’s Washington Post column on Monday that scrutinized the other major media outlets, for not doing so. Wemple noted that many outlets and cable news outlets were quick to cover the dossier and the FBI’s reliance on it when it suited their assumptions that Trump conspired with Russia but have failed to correct the record now that the evidence reveals it was tainted by Russian intelligence.
“Freshly declassified footnotes from a 2019 Justice Department report cast further doubt on one of the central documents of Russiagate — a collection of memos compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele and published by BuzzFeed in January 2017. The dossier contained extravagant allegations about presidential candidate Donald Trump and was treated to deference in some precincts of the mainstream media,” Wemple wrote.
Steele’s dossier was not only central to the FBI’s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Applications on campaign volunteer Carter Page but also played a central role in the Intelligence Community Assessment that Russia preferred Trump to former Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, which was also debunked in the declassified footnotes.
Interestingly enough, it was Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee that funded Steele’s dossier with Russian disinformation and the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane team was aware that the information being supplied was false.
“The declassified footnotes lend texture to that grim assessment. They have been unsheathed at the urging of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), two critics of the investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia. Even a cursory look at the footnotes makes clear why they pushed for sunlight,” stated Wemple in his column. “Remember the dossier’s famous allegations that the Russians had kompromat against Trump because of illicit alleged activities in a Russian hotel? A declassified footnote elaborates on the provenance of that story: According to an intelligence community report, a source who spanned Trump’s circles and Russia said that it was false and resulted from Russian intelligence ‘infiltrat[ing] a source into the network.’”
Still, CBS News, the Associated Press, MSNBC, the New York Times and CNN have failed to cover the footnotes or clarify the findings to their viewers and readers.
Presidential candidate Joe Biden released a new advertisement on April 18 that criticizes President Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The ad focuses on Trump’s relationship with the Chinese government, saying that he “rolled over for the Chinese” and highlighted comments Biden made in January and February condemning the President’s response and arguing for United States public health involvement in China.
Many criticized the ad’s rhetoric, calling it racist and xenophobic on Twitter, saying that it parroted Republicans’ anti-China talking points and stood to harm Asian Americans who have already faced harassment as a result of the pandemic.
One of presidential candidate Joe Biden’s latest advertisements came under fire on Twitter this weekend, with many calling it racist and xenophobic for its rhetoric surrounding China and the novel coronavirus. The ad explicitly targets President Trump’s response to the coronavirus, criticizing President Trump for being too soft and trusting of the Chinese government during the early stages of the pandemic.
It positions Biden as his hypothetical foreign policy foil, showing a clip of Biden saying, “I would be on the phone with China making it clear: We are going to need to be in your country. You have to be open. You have to be clear. We have to know what’s going on.”
Tweet Embed: //twitter.com/mims/statuses/1251582266251243525?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw Donald Trump left our country unprepared and unprotected for the worst public health and economic crisis in our lifetime — and now we’re paying the price. pic.twitter.com/aCxcqQqUqw
The Atlantic’s Peter Beinart called those comments a “jingoistic fantasy,” writing that “in suggesting that Biden could bludgeon China into submission — in a phone call, no less — the Biden campaign is peddling a lie about how public-health cooperation with China actually works.” The advertisement itself appears to be a response to Trump’s recent anti-Biden ads, which accuse the Vice President of being soft on China.
At the same time, the ad’s rhetoric casts China’s government — and its people — as untrustworthy, linking the American crisis to Trump putting trust in Chinese government officials. The advertisement states that the President “rolled over for the Chinese” — as opposed to “Chinese President Xi Jinping” or “the Chinese government” — failing to differentiate between the government and its people in what some are calling an unfair generalization.
The advertisement has garnered praise from some for being hard on Trump: Jon Cooper, former chair of The Democratic Coalition (an anti-Trump super-PAC), wrote on Twitter, “Damn, this ad by Joe Biden is brutally effective. Trump can run, but he can’t hide.” Political commentator Edward Hardy tweeted, “Joe Biden has unveiled another devastating attack ad.” Singer Ricky Davila said on Twitter, “Holy sh-t, Joe Biden’s newest ad slaps an orange criminal’s weak pathetic ego in the face.”
However, just as pervasive (if not more so) than the praise were criticisms of the ad’s rhetoric, with many criticizing the way in which it portrays China, its people, and its government.
Tweet Embed: //twitter.com/mims/statuses/1251923773739208706?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw The racism of this @JoeBiden ad should be obvious.
Tweet Embed: //twitter.com/mims/statuses/1251854047151362049?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw There are innumerable reasons & ways to slam Trump. Joe Biden’s new racist ad isn’t one of them.Tweet Embed: //twitter.com/mims/statuses/1251886001888378880?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw This is a devastatingly racist ad. Does Biden have #AAPI advisors? Because it sure as hell seems like he’s not listening to them, or to the #AAPI community who will suffer with this racist, xenophobic messaging. I’m so disappointed. https://t.co/XfRSxfiaMS
Others expressed frustration at the Biden campaign’s apparent lack of willingness to reach out to progressive voters, particularly given the messaging of the ad.
Tweet Embed: //twitter.com/mims/statuses/1252046179426201600?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw Joe Biden is now running an ad saying Trump likes and trusts China too much. That ad would never exist if the outbreak started in England. In other words, he is now attacking Trump from the right on racism, xenophobia, and nationalism.
Remind me again why we should vote for him?
Tweet Embed: //twitter.com/mims/statuses/1251906346594611200?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw Joe Biden’s campaign says its reaching out to progressives but then they release racist ads to appeal to conservatives and he tells us he’d veto M4A so they can definitely eat shit.
Biden has condemned some of the anti-Chinese rhetoric that President Trump has espoused in the past, tweeting on Feb. 1 that, “we need to lead the way with science — not Donald Trump’s record of hysteria, xenophobia, and fear-mongering.”
Tweet Embed: //twitter.com/mims/statuses/1223727977361338370?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw We are in the midst of a crisis with the coronavirus. We need to lead the way with science — not Donald Trump’s record of hysteria, xenophobia, and fear-mongering. He is the worst possible person to lead our country through a global health emergency.
“Wow @JoeBiden,” Cecillia Wang, deputy legal director of the National ACLU, said on Twitter. “Already trying to out-Trump Trump. This kind of fearmongering is causing violent attacks on Asian Americans.”
Communist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) on Monday in a tweet celebrated the oil crash, which can lead to massive loss of jobs.
A futures contract for US crude dropped over 100% on Monday as demand for oil dropped amid the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Democrat-media complex is using the Coronavirus as a vehicle to usher in Socialist policies.
AOC celebrated American workers losing their jobs and said, “You absolutely love to see it. This along with record low interest rates means it’s the right time for a worker-led, mass investment in green infrastructure to save our planet. *cough*”
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Democrats and Republicans in Congress feuded on Monday over who was responsible for delay even as they worked on details of a possible $450 billion-plus deal to provide more aid to small businesses and hospitals hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.
FILE PHOTO: U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks to the media after a meeting in the office of House U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to wrap up work on coronavirus economic aid legislation, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Washington, U.S., March 22, 2020. REUTERS/Mary F. Calvert – RC25PF9NX45Y/File Photo
“We could have been done yesterday, but the Democrats continue to hold up, even though we had agreed to all the numbers,” Republican Kevin McCarthy, House of Representatives minority leader, told Fox News.
President Donald Trump said on Sunday his fellow Republicans were close to an agreement with Democrats. He suggested there could be a resolution on Monday, but by Monday afternoon, there was as yet no deal.
An agreement would end a stalemate over Trump’s request to add to a small-business loan program. Congress set up the program last month as part of a $2.3 trillion coronavirus economic relief plan, but it has already run out of money.
At a brief Monday afternoon session of the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that Senate leaders had arranged for the chamber to meet again on Tuesday, providing another opportunity for a vote if a deal is struck by then.
“The Senate, regretfully, will not be able to pass more money for funding America’s paychecks today. However, since this is so urgent, I’ve asked that the Senate meet again tomorrow … and the Democratic leader has agreed to my request,” McConnell, a Republican, said. “Colleagues, it’s past time, past time, to get this done for the country.”
McConnell complained that an agreement had not been reached because “our Democratic colleagues are still prolonging their discussions with the (Trump) administration.” In the House, McCarthy also blamed Democrats for delay.
“How many more millions of (House Speaker Nancy) Pelosi’s layoffs will we have to endure before she will put people before politics?” McCarthy wrote on Twitter.
Pelosi’s spokesman, Drew Hammill, shot back that Democrats, who have the majority in the House, have given notice that there could be floor action on a bill as soon as Wednesday.
Representative Lee Zeldin, a Republican, said on Fox News that a bipartisan deal was looking good that would include $310 billion for small business aid.
Zeldin said there would be at least $50 billion more for a separate small business loan program under the deal still under negotiation. A Democratic source familiar with the talks has said this figure was more likely to be $60 billion.
“I believe that there is a deal coming,” Zeldin said.
The Democratic source, speaking on condition that he not be identified, said some $60 billion of the $310 billion was likely to be set aside for minority and rural businesses.
The Democrats also sought more funds for state and local governments and hospitals, as well as food aid for the poor. Republicans have strongly resisted these proposals, although Trump said on Sunday he favored more aid for state and local governments and said that could be done at a later date.
Republican Senator Bill Cassidy said aid for states and municipalities will not be included in the package now being negotiated. Cassidy, whose home state of Louisiana has been among those hit hardest by the outbreak, told reporters it was too early to assess the extent of the damage.
“It’s not in this package,” he said.
The lack of more funds for state and local governments was one reason a leading progressive Democrat, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, said she expected to oppose the bill.
“It is insulting to think that we can pass such a small amount of money in the context of not even knowing when Congress is going to reconvene … pass such a small amount of money, pat ourselves on the back, and then leave town again,” she said during a conference call. Ocasio-Cortez represents a district of New York City that has been severely impacted by the pandemic.
Reporting by Doina Chiacu, Susan Cornwell and Patricia Zengerle in Washington; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Matthew Lewis
I think I’m where most sane people are on the coronavirus outbreak:
—Concerned but not panicked.
—Calm but not apathetic.
—Taking reasonable precautions but remaining skeptical of what all the purportedly “best experts” here in the United States are telling us about every aspect of their belated crisis management and response (especially on their pimping of vaccine development to prevent the disease).
Here are some plain, nonhysterical facts: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control is a bloated federal government agency with a long history of incompetence, fraud, secrecy, mission creep and shady alliances with both social justice causes on the left and private corporations on the big business right. The “deep state” of entrenched bureaucrats embedded in the Beltway bowels is alive and thriving at the CDC. The unelected elites who’ve occupied top offices at the public health-industrial complex are hostile to public scrutiny while clamoring for ever-ballooning budgets. Their recommendations have often been detrimental to citizens’ well-being and freedom.
And, yes, many of the scientists who work there are rabidly anti-conservative and anti-Trump.
It’s a brazen lie that President Donald Trump “slashed” CDC funding, which is being used as an excuse for the agency’s coronavirus unpreparedness. Cognitively impaired and truth-challenged Joe Biden made the claim during last week’s Democratic debate that these purported “Draconian cuts” put Americans at risk. But Trump’s budget proposal to cut some sliver of CDC fat has never been enacted, and Congress increased funding, instead.
At nearly $7 billion, CDC’s annual budget is more than 200% larger than it was two decades ago. On top of that, a shady big business lobbying group called Corporate Friends of CDC has raised hundreds of millions of supplemental dollars — which raises serious conflict-of-interest issues. In 2007, Sen. Tom Coburn’s fiscal audit of the agency discovered vulgar expenditures including CDC syphilis prevention funds spent to host a “safe-sex” event with a porn star, CDC HIV/AIDS prevention funds spent on a transgender beauty pageant, and $45 million in CDC funding spent on conferences featuring prostitutes, protests and beach parties.
—The notorious 1976 swine flu vaccine scandal was catalyzed by mass hysteria whipped up by CDC junk scientists clamoring for more money; Congress obliged and nearly 45 million Americans were unnecessarily jabbed with a vaccine for a disease that had fizzled by the time the shots were ready. The vaccine resulted in an increased risk of developing Guillain-Barre syndrome — leading to muscle weakness and paralysis.
—In 2012, the CDC’s main building housing infectious anthrax, SARS and monkeypox gases was discovered to have been leaking deadly pathogens due to a flawed engineered airflow system.
—In 2014, the CDC’s lackadaisical response to Ebola virus gave the greenlight to Patient Zero Thomas Eric Duncan and infected medical personnel to board commercial airlines while ill — exposing untold numbers of travelers to the deadly disease. Expensive isolation chambers that had been subsidized by taxpayers to the tune of $15 million sat buried in a Georgia warehouse.
—For the past few years, the agency has employed a fear campaign to induce Americans to get regular flu shots (formulated based on guesswork) using flawed statistics and despite international scientific conclusions that there is “no evidence” to support the CDC’s assumptions that the vaccine reduces transmission of the virus or the risk of potentially deadly complications.
—Just this week, the Informed Consent Action Network reported astonishing results from its lawsuit against the CDC to obtain scientific documentation for the agency’s claim that “vaccines do not cause autism” — specifically for the first seven vaccines given to your child in their first six months of life. CDC had stonewalled, and then finally produced 20 studies — 18 of which were irrelevant to ICAN’s public records request and two of which suggest that vaccines may indeed cause autism. In other words: The CDC is lying while continuing to smear vaccine critics as “conspiracy theorists” and public health threats.
As if to underscore my point about this agency’s misdirected priorities and rank political pandering, the CDC director this week found it more urgent to condemn Republicans as racist for accurately describing the origins of the virus from Wuhan, China, than to do his job.
The next coronavirus relief package may not have Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s vote.
“We have not seen the final text of this bill, but what I can say is that if it matches up with what has been reported, I will not support this bill personally,” the New York Democrat said on Monday.
“I’m not speaking for our caucus, I’m not speaking for our delegation, I’m not speaking for anybody,” Ocasio-Cortez added. “But as the person who is representing the most impacted district in the country, my constituents are upset.”
Congress is working on a small-business relief bill that will provide more federal aid for the Paycheck Protection Program. According to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the bill’s proposed framework contains $350 billion for small-business relief programs, $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion to help states set up testing and to reopen local economies. However, the legislation has not been finalized yet.
“It is insulting to think we can pass such a small amount of money in the context of not knowing when Congress is even going to reconvene and pass such a small amount of money, pat ourselves on the back and then leave town again,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
Her remarks were made during a virtual press conference held by progressive leaders in Congress—including fellow House “squad” members Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib—to outline their demands for “Phase 4” of the coronavirus legislation.
Their #PutPeopleFirst campaign calls for $2,000 in direct monthly payments for Americans over 16, eviction protections and increased food aid. It would also enact a vote-by-mail requirement for the 2020 elections. The earliest that Phase 4 of the coronavirus relief could be done is May 4, when lawmakers return to Washington, D.C., after their recess.
Representative Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat from Washington state, agreed that it may be “difficult” to support the small-business relief package this week. But she didn’t go so far as to reject it, saying she has to see what the bill’s final version ends up looking like.
Key negotiators on the interim relief package expressed optimism that a deal could be reached early this week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell amended the chamber’s schedule to set up a Tuesday meeting.
“Since this is so urgent, I have asked that the Senate meet again tomorrow in a new session that was not previously scheduled, and the Democratic leader has agreed to my request. Colleagues, it is past time, past time, to get this done for the country,” the Kentucky Republican said Monday.
Ocasio-Cortez slammed Congress for being out of session amid the global health crisis, stating that she’s “not here with the luxury of time” or to support “a $5 bill.”
“Incrementalism is not helpful in this moment…it’s like putting a Band-Aid on an enormous wound,” she said during the press conference. “We have to make sure we demand meaningful change and meaningful assistance for working families.”
The freshman lawmaker represents New York’s 14th District, which is in the Bronx and Queens. New York is now the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis in the United States. As of Monday, the Empire State had 248,000 confirmed cases and 14,347 deaths.
Netscape co-founder and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen offers a really appealing essay spotlighting how one of the most humiliating factors in this entire coronavirus outbreak is how vast swaths of American industry, government, and society seem flatfooted and haplessly incapable of mobilizing for a crisis. Our big institutions and leaders not only lack the ability, they never planned to build that ability:
In the U.S., we don’t even have the ability to get federal bailout money to the people and businesses that need it. Tens of millions of laid off workers and their families, and many millions of small businesses, are in serious trouble *right now*, and we have no direct method to transfer them money without potentially disastrous delays. A government that collects money from all its citizens and businesses each year has never built a system to distribute money to us when it’s needed most.
Why do we not have these things? Medical equipment and financial conduits involve no rocket science whatsoever. At least therapies and vaccines are hard! Making masks and transferring money are not hard. We could have these things but we chose not to — specifically we chose not to have the mechanisms, the factories, the systems to make these things. We chose not to *build*.
The only minor gripe I have is that Andreessen really wants to spur both sides of the political aisle to a more pro-growth, pro-building mentality . . . and from where I sit, one side of our political debate is a lot further along this road than the other:
The right must fight hard against crony capitalism, regulatory capture, ossified oligopolies, risk-inducing offshoring, and investor-friendly buybacks in lieu of customer-friendly (and, over a longer period of time, even more investor-friendly) innovation.
It’s time for full-throated, unapologetic, uncompromised political support from the right for aggressive investment in new products, in new industries, in new factories, in new science, in big leaps forward.
The left starts out with a stronger bias toward the public sector in many of these areas. To which I say, prove the superior model! Demonstrate that the public sector can build better hospitals, better schools, better transportation, better cities, better housing. Stop trying to protect the old, the entrenched, the irrelevant; commit the public sector fully to the future.
I mean, come on. Who’s preventing the construction of new skyscrapers in San Francisco? It’s not a bunch of conservative Republicans. Who’s preventing the construction of ten more zero-emission nuclear reactors? Most big cities in the United States have few or no Republican officeholders, so they can’t be the reason most big cities’ public transportation systems or school systems are so disappointing. “Why can’t 100,000 or 1 million students a year attend Harvard?” It’s not conservatives keeping more students out of the Ivy League schools.
You can fairly argue that President Trump and his MAGA-minded supporters have a nostalgic, unrealistic yearning to go back to an old-fashioned, idealized America that exists only in their imagination. But vast swaths of the Democratic Party are prisoners of their own nostalgia, dreaming of a country where Americans could enjoy the widespread union jobs of the 1940s, the social policies are aligned with the counterculture of the Baby Boomers in the 1960s, and our foreign policy is aligned with George McGovern’s “Come home, America” of the 1970s.