In a series of remarks and fact sheets, Vice President Joe Biden slammed Donald Trump’s abject failure to lead America’s response to COVID-19 — with more than 130,000 Americans now dead, three million infected, and 20 million people out of work and offered his own plan to save lives and the economy.
Trump continues to try to ignore away the threat, even as the U.S. hits record daily levels of new infections and as Dr. Anthony Fauci testified that America is at risk of seeing as many as 100,000 new infections a day if action is not taken now to stop the spread. Indeed, Americans are banned by most countries that have been successful in taking control over the coronavirus pandemic.
While Trump flails and refuses to take responsibility, Vice President Biden laid out clear steps that the nation must take to get the virus under control so that we can save lives and get Americans back to work. It’s no surprise then that two new polls show that Americans “overwhelmingly” trust Biden over Trump to lead our country’s response to COVID-19.
Likewise, Vice President Biden blasted Trump for his dereliction of duty in failing to hold Russia accountable after numerous reports emerged showing that Trump failed to take action after being briefed by the intelligence community about Russian-backed attacks on our soldiers in Afghanistan.
The plan that Biden advanced, he said, “builds on the roadmap I released back in March that would have saved lives if it had been adopted. It is a plan to save lives in the months ahead. Once again — I encourage him to adopt this plan in its entirety. This is too important for politics.”
He added, “It’s not about you, Mr. President — it’s about the health and well-being of the American public. The American people didn’t make enormous sacrifices over the past four months so you could waste your time with late night rantings and tweets.
“They didn’t make these sacrifices so you could ignore the science and turn responsible steps like wearing a mask into a political statement. And they certainly didn’t do it so you could wash your hands and walk away.
“Maybe there are times this nation needs a cheerleader. Now isn’t one of them. We need a president.”
The Biden campaign offered a fact sheet, contrasting the Vice President’s approach with what Trump has failed to do:
Today, the trajectory of COVID-19 in America is headed in the wrong direction. In some parts of the country, the test positivity rate is climbing, hospitalizations are sky-rocketing, and testing sites are overwhelmed. Donald Trump’s catastrophic failures of governance have led to tens of thousands of needless deaths and economic pain for tens of millions of Americans. We are only four percent of the world’s population, yet we have 25 percent of the world’s cases and deaths. And, the United States is barely better equipped to manage the threat of COVID-19 today than we were six months ago. Every day that Trump wastes not acting, he squanders the sacrifices of the American people and sets our response and recovery back even further.
It is impossible to know what the state of the COVID-19 pandemic will be on the day Biden takes office, but if elected, Biden won’t wait to take action. Minutes after he is declared the winner of the election, Biden will make one of his first calls to Dr. Tony Fauci and ask him to extend his unprecedented record of service to six Presidents by serving one more. Dr. Fauci will have full access to the Oval Office and an uncensored platform to speak directly to the American people — whether delivering good news or bad.
During his transition, Biden will seek out governors and mayors and other leaders of both parties, from every state, territory, and tribe, and consult with education, technology, business, and labor leaders so he’s ready to hit the ground running and fight the virus as our next President.
Over the last four months, Joe Biden has laid out comprehensive plans with five basic elements that he would do as President to address COVID-19: (1) test-and-trace, (2) sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) for all, (3) science-based treatments and vaccines, (4) steps to reopen safely and effectively, and (5) protecting those at high-risk, including older Americans.
Biden has repeatedly said he hopes that Trump will use these intervening months to adopt the policies he’s outlined. The health of our nation — and our economy — hang in the balance.
Today, Biden is updating his Plan to Combat COVID-19 for the current circumstances we face as a result of President Trump’s persistent failures:
Implement Widespread Testing-and-Tracing
The Trump Fiasco: The failure to test swiftly and broadly led to the failure to get the virus under control. After deflecting blame for months, Donald Trump has repeatedly doubled down on his orders to slow down testing. It is unacceptable that with cases surging in some parts of the country and Americans urged to go back to work in others, we still do not have the basic capacity in testing and contact tracing we need to sustainably manage this virus. In Arizona, this past week, Americans with COVID-19 have had to wait in baking hot cars in miles-long lines for a test, and those were the lucky ones who had an appointment. In March, Donald Trump claimed that every American who wanted a test could get one. It was a lie then. It’s still a lie.
Double the number of drive-through testing sites and increase the numbers until there are no more lines.
Build a national contact tracing workforce, starting by hiring at least 100,000 Americans and equipping sorely under-resourced public health departments with the resources they need to spot and stop outbreaks.
Establish Sustainable Supply Chain for PPE and Supplies and Help for Health Care Workers:
The Trump Fiasco: Months into this crisis, our health care workers are still forced to scramble for their own supplies and reuse masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) shift-after-shift. Hundreds of health care workers have died from COVID-19, and tens of thousands have been infected. This is heartbreaking — and a catastrophic failure of leadership. Health care workers put their lives on the line every day, and the risk they face is unacceptably compounded by the inconsistent and politized response to expert guidance, like social distancing and masks. Trump has abdicated responsibility, and turned his back on health care workers in their time of need.
The Biden Plan:
Implement a coordinated, country-wide, future-facing national effort to acquire, produce, and distribute PPE, test kits and machines, lab supplies, and other critical supplies, including by fully utilizing the authorities under the Defense Production Action.
Identify tomorrow’s needs for PPE, lab reagents, and test supplies when they run low, as well as replenish depleted supplies in hard-hit areas, especially for federally qualified health centers, rural health clinics, safety-net hospitals, and nursing homes, which are typically resource-poor and disproportionately serve vulnerable populations that are bearing the brunt of COVID-19.
Build now toward a future, flexible American-sourced and manufactured capability to ensure we are not vulnerable to supply chain disruptions in times of crisis.
In addition, Biden would ensure the U.S. government steps up for nurses, doctors and other health care workers and first responders, including by providing:
Guaranteed priority access to national supplies of PPE.
Premium Pay for health care workers for putting themselves at risk. There is no substitute for ensuring the safety of health care workers, but as Biden has said, everyone who puts their lives on the line should receive a boost in their paychecks.
Emergency paid leave, which Biden has called for anyone who gets COVID-19 or needs to care for a loved one who has it.
Free, accessible, and safe housing to enable health care workers to quarantine away from their loved ones as necessary.
A Health Care Worker COVID-19 Consultation Hotline and strengthened clinician peer-to-peer learning, so that frontline staff do not have to rely on social media to learn best practices in treating COVID-19 patients.
Access to an array of prevention and early intervention mental health services, including health-status monitoring, emotional-health support and psychological first aid, to every COVID-19 health care worker. Seeking help should not impact your current or future employment, including your ability to get a license. This is in addition to Biden’s robust commitment to ensuring every American has access to mental health insurance coverage and expanding immediate access to telemental health services by requiring all carriers — not just Medicare — to pay for telemental health services. There should be no barrier to mental health care in this crisis – none.
The mobilization of health care workers nationwide, including assessing areas of need, developing a registry of volunteers, and ensuring that staffing gaps are voluntarily filled in a safe, sustainable way.
Accelerate the Development of Treatments and Vaccines:
The Trump Fiasco: Instead of listening to public health professionals, Trump pushes dangerous, disproven drugs. Our country is now stuck with a massive stockpile of hydroxychloroquine, a drug Trump repeatedly hailed. Trump’s vaccine development effort — “Operation Warp Speed” — lacks sound leadership, global vision, or a strategy for securing the necessary funding to see this mission through or secure trust from Americans who depend on its success. And, the Trump Administration’s management of our government’s critical medical research agencies has been marred by infighting, political pressure and retaliation, and calculated cronyism. We cannot allow the Trump Administration to repeat its continued failures on relatively simple tasks like getting masks to nurses and tests to nursing homes with the harder mission of treatments and vaccines. Too much is a stake.
The Biden Plan: Biden would accelerate a coordinated global approach to develop, manufacture, and distribute a safe, effective vaccine, including:
Ramp up the large-scale manufacturing of as many vaccine candidates as necessary
Help secure COVID-19-related research from cyber threats.
Proactively build a nationwide vaccination campaign, taking the steps now to guarantee the fair distribution of all vaccines.
Immediately restore our relationship with the World Health Organization, which — while not perfect — is essential to coordinating a global response during a pandemic.
Ensure everyone — not just the wealthy and well-connected — in America receives the protection and care they deserve, and consumers are not price gouged as new drugs and therapies come to market.
Biden would also get ahead of this year’s seasonal flu by developing capacity now to ensure safe distribution and administration of seasonal flu vaccine — paired with an effective campaign to help people understand why getting a flu shot is so critical, especially this year. This effort must account for distribution in a time of social distancing, when Americans may not have access to providers from whom they normally receive the flu vaccine, including university and workplace clinics. This past flu season led to as many as 62,000 deaths and 740,000 hospitalizations, and the arrival of COVID-19 came to the United States just as the regular flu season was waning. We must prepare now for the possibility of simultaneous outbreaks of flu and COVID-19 that could overwhelm our public health system and confound our efforts to fight COVID-19.
The Trump Fiasco: While urging states to reopen as quickly as possible, Trump abdicated effective federal leadership, leaving state, tribal, and local officials to do their best without help from Washington. He has failed to deliver a unified plan for the country, advocated reopening in areas that couldn’t meet the guidance, and placed Americans at greater risk. Trump has sowed confusion and competition between states and repeatedly refused to serve as a role model or follow the guidance of our top scientists, further sowing chaos.
The Biden Plan: A stronger, more effective reopening recognizes that we won’t be able to solve the economic crisis in our country without a rigorous public health response. It requires clear, science-based, and nationwide public health guidance — including a clear, consistent message from the very top of our government on the importance of mask wearing — because we are one country with one population to protect. In addition to testing, contact tracing, and protecting older Americans, it would:
Guarantee paid leave for all who get sick and for workers caring for family members or other loved ones sick with COVID-19.
Ensure worker protection and accountability, including tasking the Occupational Safety and Health Administration with setting and enforcing a rigorous emergency temporary standard so employers follow a clear set of rules to keep workers safe from COVID-19.
Create a “Safer for Shoppers” program that gives compliant businesses a sign for their window so shoppers know they have done what they can to minimize the risk of exposure.
Equip small business with an ambitious “restart package” that provides small business owners support for retaining and rehiring workers and covering other costs of restarting in this challenging environment.
Assist schools and child care programs with re-opening, perhaps the single most important step to get parents back to work, including scaling-up NIH-funded COVID-19 pediatric research, building a Safer Schools Best Practices Clearinghouse, and providing the resources child care providers and schools — particularly Title I schools — need to safely reopen and help students who have fallen behind.
Protect Older Americans and Others at High Risk
The Trump Fiasco: Trump’s failure to organize a coherent and timely response to the crisis has placed older Americans and others at high-risk in even more vulnerable circumstances and left them behind without effective support or real options except to quarantine indefinitely. It is unconscionable that over 52,000 residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have died of COVID-19. The massive shortfall in COVID-19 testing and contact tracing has particularly heightened the risk of exposure, increased social isolation, and made more difficult the efforts to return all Americans – and especially older Americans – to something resembling normal life as safely and quickly as possible.
The Biden Plan:
Ensure evidence-based guidance for each phase of reopening and an easy-to-read Nationwide Pandemic Dashboard that Americans can check in real-time to help them gauge whether local transmission is actively occurring in their zip codes. This information is critical to helping all individuals, but especially older Americans and others at high risk, understand what level of precaution to take.
Ensure enough testing capacity so that people in nursing homes and long-term care facilities are able to receive visitors safely.
As the United States, with the most COVID-19 cases and deaths in the world, passes the 2 million infected mark and approaches 114,000 deaths, with cases spiking in more than half the states, Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president, offered a statement, and a detailed plan for economic recovery that takes into account the well-founded concerns of workers and consumers. As Biden said, Trump did not cause the pandemic but his utter failure to lead, to come up with any cohesive strategy and in fact to contradict and undermine the CDC and other agencies who would mitigate the worst impacts, has made both the toll on lives and llvelihoods that much worse. Biden shows yet again that he does not just have the compassion but the competence to be president that Trump woefully lacks. –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.
Here are Vice President Biden’s remarks and his economic plan:
The United States has passed yet another grim milestone of President Trump’s utter failure to lead us through this crisis, with two million Americans now having been afflicted with COVID-19.
President Trump isn’t responsible for the virus, but he is accountable for his historic mismanagement of the response. We now know that tens of thousands of lives could have been saved if President Trump had listened to the experts and moved faster. We know that we could have dramatically reduced the economic devastation of this outbreak if our response was anywhere close to as competent as that of other countries.
Even now, after the incredible toll our country has already paid, President Trump still refuses to take the virus seriously. While he may have forgotten about COVID-19, COVID-19 hasn’t forgotten about us. In more than 20 states, the level of new infections continues to rise. Just like Donald Trump could not wish the disease away in April, or tweet it away in May, he can’t ignore it away in June.
And now, President Trump is returning to the campaign trail, trying to ignore reality. He’s failing to take the long-overdue steps that I’ve called for to protect our country and safely re-open our economy, like getting more testing and protective equipment into the field, putting in place a national contact tracing corps, and letting science and medicine inform our strategy.
We all want to get the virus under control, and we all want the re-opening to proceed effectively so that we can get our country back to work. However, President Trump has taken his eye off the ball yet again, and he is unwilling or unable to do the hard work we need to do to win this fight. The American people can’t afford that any longer.
FACTSHEET: The Biden Plan for an Effective Re-Opening that Jumpstarts the Economy
Today, more than 20 million Americans are unemployed – and a majority of those unemployed are a result of the economic crisis worsened by President Trump’s failed response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. After weeks and months of social distancing measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19, communities across the country are in the process of re-opening. Americans deserve a President who will ensure that re-opening is as effective and safe as possible – putting people back on the payroll as quickly as possible and restoring economic demand as fully as possible. Trump has abdicated any effective federal leadership, leaving state, tribal, and local officials to do their best without help from Washington. With cases of COVID-19 still rising rapidly in parts of the country, Trump has effectively ceased to mobilize any national public health response.
A stronger, more effective reopening requires doing the work to keep workers safe, to restore consumer confidence, to support small businesses, to ensure seniors can participate, and to provide parents with the help they need to get back to work. Trump has a one-point plan for all of this – put up the “Open for Business” sign and then just see what happens. That isn’t going to fix the economy that Trump broke or minimize the risk of COVID-19 resurging. Trump’s approach falls woefully short. First, it does nothing to keep workers safe and help businesses stay open. Second, it does nothing to boost consumer confidence. And third, it does nothing to grow our economy and create good-paying jobs. Trump is essentially hanging a mission accomplished banner because a small fraction of jobs returned when millions were lost because of his incompetent response to COVID-19. Biden will release an aggressive and comprehensive plan for good-paying job creation in the coming days.
To meet the first two challenges, Biden has an eight-part plan to make sure the reopening is safe and strong and sets the foundation for an economy that works for everyone.
Guarantee Testing and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for All Called Back on the Job: If we are going to send Americans back to work without having beaten COVID-19 as a nation, workers should know if they or their co-workers are infected. Biden would:
Direct the federal government to provide regular and reliable COVID-19 testing for every worker called back on the job – paid for by the federal government, with a federal guarantee of availability and rapid reporting of results — for the duration of this crisis.
Ensure all workers, in all communities, have access to effective personal protective equipment based upon their risk of exposure to the virus and their type of workplace. No worker should be forced to give up benefits and return to work under unsafe conditions.
Ensure workers and unions have a voice in reopening plans, and that reopening decisions by tribal governments are respected. (Read Joe Biden’s plans for establishing a Pandemic Testing Board to surge testing nationwide,and ramping up the production and fair distribution of PPE.)
Guarantee Paid Leave for All Who Get Sick: No one should have to choose between their paycheck and their health. Biden would:
Ensure paid leave for all workers who get sick with COVID-19, for as long as they need to recover and complete quarantine – leave paid for by the federal government with a guarantee that workers can return to their jobs.
Guarantee federally-funded paid leave for workers caring for family members or other loved ones sick with COVID-19. His plan is broader, stronger, and longer than the plan enacted by Congress, and is in addition to existing paid leave provided by a business’s existing policies, including collectively-bargained leave.
Ensure Worker Protection and Accountability: People want to get back to work, but they also want — and deserve — to know that their workplaces are safe. Biden would:
Task the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) with setting and enforcing a rigorous emergency temporary standard for worker protection so employers follow a clear set of rules to keep workers safe from COVID-19 exposure.
Ensure that the OSHA standard includes requirements for exposure identification and control, including social distancing, improved ventilation, and other workplace design measures, adequate personal protective equipment, targeted sanitation procedures, as well as training, notification and communication requirements for handling cases at work.
Protect workers not fully covered by OSHA, including by working with Congress to ensure this standard would cover public employees and directing other agencies to enforce industry-specific standards.
Pursue tough fines on corporations that do not abide by standards or recklessly expose their workers to COVID-19, targeting employers that engage in the most egregious violations that put the largest number of workers at serious risk. And, he would do everything in his power to ensure workers are protected against retaliation as they reasonably try to stay safe.
Build a National Contact Tracing Workforce: Once COVID-19 infected people are identified, we need to find those to whom they might have unwittingly spread the disease. Contact tracing is a core component of a robust nationwide data-driven disease surveillance system. Given the massive unemployment problem that Trump generated and the incredible need for contact tracers, Biden would:
Create a U.S. Public Health Jobs Corps. Through this Corps, the federal government will closely coordinate with state, tribal, and local leaders, as well as unions, to mobilize at least 100,000 people — and many more, if necessary — to support the public health response including by ensuring contract tracing reaches every community in America. Corps members should come from the communities they serve in order to ensure that they create trust and are as effective as possible.
Establish a COVID-19 renewable state, tribal, and local government fund — which Biden proposed in mid-March — to provide sorely under-resourced public health departments the support they need to stop new outbreaks.
Protect Older Americans, Americans with Disabilities, and Others at High Risk: Discrimination against those at risk or those with COVID-19 cannot be tolerated. Biden would:
Require employers to tailor work arrangements for anyone who is in a high-risk group or has a high-risk individual in their home. If arrangements cannot be made, individuals would be allowed to continue to draw unemployment benefits and be protected from job loss. These benefits would last for the duration of the crisis.
Provide older Americans and others at high risk evidence-based guidance for different phases of reopening. Biden’s plan to ramp up testing nationwide — and the resulting aggregated testing data — will help inform advanced this guidance, and will give older Americans, who already experience social isolation, the confidence to know they will not be left behind.
Establish testing capacity so that every resident in a long-term care facility could safely see at least one visitor every week and that the many older Americans who foster or care for children have access to regular and reliable testing.
Direct the federal government to create an easy-to-read Nationwide Pandemic Dashboard that Americans can check in real-time to help them gauge whether local transmission is actively occurring in their zip codes. This information is critical to helping all individuals, but especially older Americans and others at high risk, understand what level of precaution to take.
Create “Safer for Shoppers” Program: The economy will not fully come back until consumers feel safe again. The Safer for Shoppers voluntary federal program will:
Provide state, tribal, and local governments with funding and technical assistance for their public health departments to certify business as compliant with testing procedures and other best practices for reducing transmission and to conduct spot-checks as necessary.
Compliant businesses would receive a “Safer for Shoppers” sign to display so shoppers would know that the businesses have done what they can to minimize the risk of exposure.
Restart Small Business: President Trump’s corrupt economic response has routinely favored corporations over small businesses and largely shut out minority business owners from COVID-19 recovery funds. Biden refuses to allow this crisis to inflict further economic pain on working families and communities of color. Biden would:
Provide an ambitious “restart package” that provides small business owners support for retaining and rehiring workers, as well as for fixed costs as long as they are bringing back workers.
Support work-sharing so that small businesses — and larger ones, too — can bring back all of their workers, even if they are not operating at full capacity, with the federal government making up the difference.
Provide grants for businesses to cover the costs of restarting in this challenging environment, including for supplies like personal protective equipment and plexiglass to use as a barrier to reduce transmission risk.
Swiftly end the racial inequity in small business support by ensuring that minority-owned businesses get effective access to all of these tools, as well as access to technical assistance — such as accounting support and legal advice — so that they are not shut out of federal aid programs.
Reopen Schools and Child Care Programs: Trump has done effectively nothing to help schools or child care providers reopen, perhaps the single most important step to get parents back to work. While schools stay closed, parents are struggling and students, especially low-income students and students of color, are falling behind. Biden would mobilize the federal government, in cooperation with educators, child care providers, unions, communities, and families, to take decisive action.
Significantly scale-up National Institutes of Health-funded COVID-19 pediatric research partnerships to help address the glaring gaps in our understanding of how the virus affects children and generate evidence-based guidance.
Build a Safer Schools Best Practices Clearinghouse to help schools and child care providers across the country and around the world share approaches and tools for reopening.
Provide funds for child care providers and schools — particularly Title I schools — to cover costs, including personal protective equipment and enhanced sanitation efforts; alterations to classrooms, schedules, class sizes, and transportation so students can physically distance; upgraded technology and broadband for new forms of instruction; support for social-emotional learning; and training for educators, parents, and students as they adapt to new circumstances.
Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, delivered remarks on the economy and the May jobs report which unexpectedly showed 2.5 million jobs added and an unemployment rate dipping slightly to 13.3%, instead of rising to as much as 20%. But that 2.5 million jobs reflects the fact that states have begun reopening; there were 40 million people who have filed for unemployment, so an unimaginable 37 million are still without jobs. And 13.3% is still higher than at any time during the 2008 Great Recession. Moreover, the Trump administration apparently changed the way certain numbers are calculated, so the actual unemployment rate could be 3 points higher, or 16.3%, which would be closer to what economists forecast. Trump also manages to ignore the fact that the stimulus program pushed by Democrats over Republicans’ objections, worked to keep the economy from descending into a Great Depression. He also ignored the disproportionate unemployment rates among Blacks and Hispanics, groups that are also suffering disproportionately from COVID-19. But Trump is desperate to put a rosy face on an economy while ignoring the fact the coronavirus pandemic is still spreading and his administration has done virtually nothing to provide a national program for testing, tracing and isolating, nor even set standards for workplaces and schools only some tepid guidelines. And Trump was desperate to shift attention from his Fascistic overreach of using military power used against peaceful protesters calling for an end to race-based police brutality.
Instead, Vice President Biden took Trump to task and offered his own analysis of the depth of harm to the economy and public health caused by Trump’s failure of leadership and his preoccupation with Wall Street over Main Street, wealth over wages.
Here is a transcript of Biden’s remarks: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Before I speak to the economic situation, I have to take a moment to address something the President said this morning.
Toward the end of his remarks today, Donald Trump said he hopes that George Floyd “is looking down and seeing this is a great day for our country.”
He was speaking of a man who was brutally killed by an act of needless violence — and by a larger tide of injustice — that has metastasized on this President’s watch.
George Floyd’s last words — “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe” — have echoed across our nation.
For the President to try to put any other words in the mouth of George Floyd — is frankly despicable.
And, the fact that he did so on a day when Black unemployment rose and black youth unemployment skyrocketed — tells you everything you need to know about who this man is and what he cares about.
Today, like all Americans, I was glad to see that two-and-a-half million Americans have gotten their jobs back.
For those families, that’s a sigh of relief.
And for all of us, it’s a reminder of the resilience of the American people.
To those Americans, I’m so proud of you, and so happy for you and your families.
I was disturbed, however, to see the President crowing this morning — basically hanging a “mission accomplished”’ banner when there is so much work to be done — and so many Americans are still hurting.
More than twenty million Americans — one out of every seven U.S. workers — are still out of work.
For an enormous swath of our country, their dreams are still on hold. They are still struggling to put food on the table. The unemployment rate remains the highest it’s been in nearly a century.
As I said, Black unemployment went up this month. Latino youth unemployment jumped to over 37 percent. Hispanic unemployment overall is four times higher than it was before the President botched his response to the pandemic. And I’m worried, when you look deeper at the data, that while temporary layoffs went down,permanent layoffs went up.
Donald Trump still doesn’t get it.
He’s out there spiking the football — completely oblivious to the tens of millions of people who are facing the greatest struggle of their lives. Those folks aren’t feeling any less pain today than they were yesterday.
People who’ve lost their health care in this crisis, they’re not celebrating today — especially when Donald Trump is still in court fighting to strip away health care protections from even more Americans.
The fact is, there are about 13 million less jobs today for American workers than the day that President Obama and I left office.
So while it’s wonderful to see ten percent of the families who lost their jobs due to Trump’s disastrous pandemic response start to make their way back — the President’s behavior makes me deeply worried for the 90 percent who haven’t.
So to all those families — who are scared, and hurting, and wondering what’s going to happen next: I want you to know I see you. I won’t ever forget you. And I won’t be satisfied – until this economy starts working for all of you.
Let’s be clear about something. The depth of this job crisis is not attributable to an act of God — but to the failure of a President. The truth is every country dealt with job losses due to the pandemic, but America was hit much harder out of the gate due to Trump’s complete mismanagement of the response.
This morning, he tried to compare our response to Germany’s and South Korea’s.
Okay, let’s compare. Germany has one-third of the deaths per capita that we do. South Korea has less than 300 deaths — total. America has four percent of the world’s population — and more than a quarter of the world’s deaths from this pandemic.
It’s no secret why that is.
Let’s get something straight: he did not act quickly.
For months, he downplayed the threat — falsely promising us that anyone could get a test — and claiming that “like a miracle it will disappear.”
He repeatedly praised China’s containment response – despite a litany of public appeals — including from me — not to bet American lives and the U.S. economy on the word of the Chinese government.
He refused to take action to get adequate testing in place — allowing the virus to spread further than it should have.
Columbia University found that 54,000 lives could have been saved if the administration had acted just two weeks earlier.
His failure didn’t just cost lives. It cost jobs.
New studies this week from Moody’s and Brookings confirm that half or more of those who lost their jobs would still be employed had Trump mounted a competent response like Germany and South Korea and other countries did.
We know why this happened. Donald Trump was more focused on the stock wealth of the biggest corporations than he was on the well-being of the American people.
It’s why he had his top economic advisors telling people to buy stocks instead of preparing our nation to brace for the pandemic.
Now — after 110,000 deaths and more than 20 million people still out of work — the consequences are clear.
We are still facing devastating unemployment, an historic health crisis, and a continuing crisis of violence, injustice, and indignity that is devastating Black Americans and diminishing the soul of our country.
These are some of the sternest challenges our nation has ever faced, and Trump is patting himself on the back.
He just has no idea what’s really going on in this country. He has no idea the depth of pain that people are facing. He remains completely oblivious to the human toll of his indifference. It is time for him to step out of his bunker and take a look around at the consequences of his words and actions.
Let’s be clear — a president who takes no responsibility for costing millions and millions of Americans their jobs deserves no credit when a fraction of them return.
But there’s a deeper concern here. As we recover, some of the temporary job losses we are still not on track to grow back in a way that will actually serve working people.
President Trump is still rewarding wealth over work.
All we hear coming out of the White House is calls for more tax cuts for big investors and big corporations. Well, they didn’t build this country. The middle class did — that’s who I fight for.
And if Trump continues to put the interests of CEOs and shareholders ahead of American workers, we’ll never get to where we need to be as a country.
Look, every American has a choice to make this November. Not simply what kind of President we want , but what kind of country we want. What kind of economy we want — and who that economy serves.
In the coming weeks, I will lay out in detail my comprehensive plan— not just to build things back to the way they were before COVID-19, but to build back better.
To create millions of new, good-paying jobs with benefits where people get a fair return for work and we make our country stronger, more resilient, and more just.
That plan will be anchored in job-creating investments, in small businesses, infrastructure – innovation, manufacturing, and caregiving, and in rewiring the faulty structures of our economy to ensure the dignity and equity of all American workers.
The public health crisis, the job crisis, and the crisis of inequity and indignity being endured by African Americans — those three challenges are deeply connected to one another.
The solutions must be, as well.
Any economic plan must start with a public health plan to make sure tests are available, to get our society functioning, to build back the confidence we need to truly bring back jobs and small businesses.
But that is only the first step.
My jobs plan will also be about restoring dignity to the American people.
In addition to pursuing badly-needed reforms, we need to be growing wages, leveling the playing field, and creating tens of millions of the new jobs we need to build a better American future.
There is a monumental amount of work to do to repair the damage that has been done. And simply tweeting slogans like “transition to greatness” won’t solve anything for families who are hurting.
I look forward to introducing and implementing a real jobs plan that will meet this challenging moment.
Americans can’t afford to have any more of their time wasted.
They need an economy that works for them — now.
They need jobs that bring dignity — now.
They need equal justice — and equal opportunities — now.
They need a president who cares about them, and cares about helping them heal — now.
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, after a meeting with Donald Trump at the White House, chided Washington for politicizing the coronavirus pandemic, and not acting swiftly enough to provide crucial funding to states and localities, especially those – New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, California – where the outbreak of cases and the death toll has been the worst. “This hyper-partisan Washington environment is toxic for this country,” he stated in a press briefing shortly afterward at the National Press Club in Washington. He urged government to “do the right thing.”
Senate Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, have called such funding a “blue state bail out,” after having allocated billions to friendly industries and funneling millions to connected business interests. He stressed that New York and California, alone, represent one-third of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, so you don’t have a reenergized economy without them. New York and California are also are the biggest donor states, sending billions of dollars more to taker-states like Kentucky than they get back in federal spending (New York sends $29 billion a year more than it gets back; Kentucky takes $29 billion more than it sends).If the states do not get federal aid, he stresseded, they will be forced to cut spending for hospitals, schools, police and fire – all the services most essential during a public health crisis – and excess thousands of workers, which won’t do the unemployment rate much good. Or, he said, the federal government can use this time as Franklin Roosevelt did during the Great Depression, to finally build the big, bold infrastructure projects that have been put on back-burners for 30 years.
Cuomo noted that the The House of Representatives has already passed its Heroes bill that includes $500 billion for states and $375 billion for locals; Medicaid funding for the most vulnerable; increased SNAP food assistance; 100 percent FEMA federal assistance; funding for testing; and repeals SALT cap to help states most affected by COVID-19, “the politically motivated first double tax in U.S. history” that was implemented by the federal tax law in 2017.
The Governor also renewed his call for Congress to pass the ‘Americans First Law’ to help prevent corporate bailouts following the COVID-19 pandemic. First proposed by the Governor on May 10th, the legislation states that a corporation cannot be eligible to receive government funding if it doesn’t maintain the same number of employees that the corporation had before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cuomo also urged President Trump to support a real public infrastructure program and to advance infrastructure projects in New York — including the LaGuardia AirTrain, the Cross-Hudson Tunnels, and the Second Avenue Subway expansion — to help supercharge the economy.
He listed a series of projects in New York State that are ready to go – including the LaGuardia AirTrain, the Cross-Hudson Tunnels, and the Second Avenue Subway expansion – that are just awaiting federal approval “to help supercharge the economy.” Significantly, Trump earlier has told agencies to dispense with regulations that are obstacles to speedy development, and during the 2016 campaign, boasted he would be the builder, with a $1 trillion infrastructure spending plan.
Cuomo also renewed his call for ‘Americans First Law’ which would require any company that takes government funding to rehire the same number of employees it had before the COVID-19 pandemic, and not use the pandemic to “right-size” or “downsize” and cut costs to increase profits.
“Washington is now debating their next bill that would aid in the reopening and the recovery. Prior bills have helped businesses, large businesses, small businesses, hotels, airlines, all sorts of business interests,” Cuomo said. “That’s great but you also have states and local governments and state governments do things like fund schools and fund hospitals. Do you really want to cut schools now? Do you really want to cut hospitals now after what we have just gone through when we are talking about a possible second wave, when we are talking about a fall with possible more cases? Do you really think we should starve state governments and cut hospitals? Would that be smart? Do you really want to cut local governments right now? That is cutting police. That is cutting fire. Is now the time to savage essential services and don’t you realize that if do you this, if you cut state and local governments and you cause chaos on the state and local level, how does that help a nation striving to recover economically?
“The Covid states, the states that bore the brunt of the Covid virus are one third of the national GDP. How can you tell one third of the country to go to heck and then think you’re going to see an economic rebound? Also, state governments, state economies, local economies, that is what the national economy is made of. What is the national economy but for a function of the states? There is no nation without the states. They tend to forget that in this town. But it is the obvious fact and we have made this mistake before.
“Again, look at history. If you don’t learn from your mistakes you are going to repeat the mistakes. It is that simple and we have seen in the past what has happened when state and local governments were savaged and how it hurt the national recovery. Wall Street Journal, not exactly a liberal publication, makes the point that on the economy cuts to employment and spending likely to weigh on growth for years. So even if you believe the rhetoric we are about reopening, we are about getting the economy back, great. Then if that is what you believe you would provide funding to the state and local governments.
“The Federal Reserve Chairman Powell, very smart man respected on both sides of the aisle, said we have evidence the global financial crisis in the years afterward where state and local government layoffs and lack of hiring weighed on economic growth. We want to reopen the economy. We want to get this national economy better than ever. Fine. Then act accordingly and act appropriately.
“This hyper-partisan Washington environment is toxic for this country. You have people saying, well don’t want to pass a bill that we continue don’t want to pass a bill that helps Democratic states. It would be a blue state bailout is what some have said. Senator McConnell, stopping blue state bailouts. Senator Scott, we’re supposed to go bail them out? That’s not right. On Fox TV, Laffer, you want us to give our money to Cuomo and New York? Hello, not this week.
“First of all, this is really an ugly, ugly sentiment. It is an un-American response. We’re still the United States of America. Those words meant something. United States of America. First of all, Mr. federal legislator, you’re nothing without the states, and you represent the United States. Not only is it ugly, it is false. It is wholly untrue, what they are saying, 100 percent. And there are facts, if you want to pose the question, which is, I think, divisive at this period of time.
“But if you want to pose the question, what states give money and what states take money? Right? There is a financial equation that is the federal government. And if you want to ask, what states give money to other states and what states take money from other states, that’s a question that Senator McConnell and Senator Scott and Mr. Laffer don’t really want to ask, because the truth, the truth is totally the opposite of what they’re saying. You look at the states that give more money to the federal government than they get back. You know the top, what they call donor state, you know what one state pays in more to the pot than they take out to the federal pot than any other state than the United States? It’s the State of New York. New York pays more every year, $29 billion more, than they take back. You know the second state, New Jersey. Massachusetts, Connecticut, California, every year, they contribute more to the federal pot. You know who takes out more than they put in from that pot? You know whose hand goes in deeper and takes out than they put in? Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, Alabama, Florida. Those are the facts, those are the numbers.
“The great irony is, the conservatives want to argue against redistribution of wealth. Why should you take money from the rich and give it to the poor? That’s exactly what you are doing. That is exactly what you have done every year. So it’s only redistribution unless you wind up getting more money. Then it’s fine, then it’s not redistribution. Take from the rich, give to the poor, that’s redistribution, yes, unless you’re the poor, Senator McConnell, Senator Scott because you were the ones who have your hand out. You were the ones who are taking more than others. Redistribution, you’re against it, except when the richer states give you more money every year. Then the great hypocrisy, they actually make the redistribution worse when they passed three years ago a provision ending what’s called state and local tax deductibility. That didn’t level the playing field.
“What they did was they took the states that were already paying more money into the federal government, the quote, unquote richer states and they increased the money they were taking from the richer states. They took another $23 billion from California and another $14 billion from New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, Connecticut. The hypocrisy is so insulting because when you start to talk about numbers, there is still facts. People can still add and people can still subtract and they know what they put in and they know what they take out.
“I know it’s Washington, D.C. but the truth actually still matters. Americans are smart and they find out the truth even in the fog and the blather of Washington, DC. My point to our friends in the Congress: Stop abusing New York. Stop abusing New Jersey. Stop abusing Massachusetts and Illinois and Michigan and Pennsylvania. Stop abusing the states who bore the brunt of the Covid virus through no fault of their own. Why did New York have so many cases. It’s nothing about New York. It’s because the virus came from Europe and no one in this nation told us.”
Cuomo hit back on suggestions that the state was at fault for having so many COVID-19 cases – indeed, more than almost any other nation, at 364,965, including 1129 cases added the day before, from 45 counties. Indeed, though Trump had intelligence briefings in January, he downplayed the threat and even later, only looked to China as a source, so the country’s attention was focused on cases in Washington and California.
“We were told the virus is coming from China. It’s coming from China, look to the West. We were looking to the West it came from the East. The virus left China, went to Europe. Three million Europeans come to New York, land in our airports January, February, March and bring the virus. And nobody knew. It was not New York’s job. We don’t do international, global health. It didn’t come from China. It came from Europe and we bore the brunt of it. Now, you want to hold that against us because we bore the brunt of a national mistake? And because we had more people die? We lost more lives and you want to now double the insult and the injury by saying, ‘Well, why should we help those states? Those states had more Covid deaths.’ That’s why you’re supposed to help those states because they did have more Covid deaths and this is the United States and when one state has a problem, the other states help.
“I was in the federal government for eight years. When Los Angeles had earthquakes, we helped. When the Midwest had the Red River floods, we helped. When Florida had Hurricane Andrew, we helped. When Texas had floods, we helped. When Louisiana had Hurricane Katrina, we helped. We didn’t say “well, that is Louisiana’s fault. They had the hurricane. Well, that is Texas’s fault, they had the floods.” It was nobody’s fault. And we were there to help because that is who we are and that is what we believe. What happened to that American spirit? What happened to that concept of mutuality?
“You know there still a simple premise that you can’t find in a book, and Washington hasn’t written regulations for, called doing the right thing. There is still a right thing in life. The right thing you feel inside you. The right thing is calibration of your principle and your belief and your soul and your heart and your spirit. And we do the right thing in this country, not because a law says do the right thing, but because we believe in doing the right thing. As individuals, as people, we believe in doing right by each other, by living your life by a code where you believe you are living it in an honorable way, acting on principle, and you are doing the right thing.
“Why can’t the government? Why can’t the Congress reflect the right thing principle that Americans live their life by? Pass a piece of legislation that is honorable and decent and does the right thing for all Americans. Why is that so hard? And if you want to talk about reopening the economy, then do it in a productive way. People think this economy is just going to bounce back. I don’t think it is going to bounce back. I think it will bounce back for some, and I think there will be collateral damage of others. We already know that tens of thousands of small businesses closed and probably won’t come back. We already know the large corporations are going to lay off thousands and thousands of workers, and they are going to use this pandemic as an excuse to get lean, to restructure, and they will boost their profits by reducing their payroll.
“We know it. We have been there before. We saw this in the 2008 Mortgage Crisis where the government bailed them out, the big banks that created the problem, and they used the money to pay themselves bonuses and they laid off their workers. They will do is same thing again that. That is why I propose the Americans First legislation that said a corporation can’t get a dime of government bailout unless they rehire the same number of workers they had pre-pandemic as post. Don’t take a gift from the taxpayer and then lay off Americans who are going to file for unemployment insurance paid for by the taxpayers. Don’t do that again.
“And if you want to be smart, we know that there is work to do in this nation. We have known it for years. You can fill a library with the number of books on the infrastructure and the decay of our infrastructure and how many roads and bridges have to be repaired, how this nation is grossly outpaced by nations across the world in terms of infrastructure, airports and development. Now is the time to stimulate the economy by doing that construction and doing that growth. You want to supercharge the reopening? That’s how do you it. This nation was smart enough to do it before. We did it in the midst of the great depression. We created 8 million jobs. We built an infrastructure that we’re still living on today. We’re still living on the infrastructure built by our grandparents, not even our parents. What are we going to leave our children? And now is the time to do it.
“We have major infrastructure projects in New York that are ready to go, that are desperately needed, that were desperately needed 30 years ago. Build them now. Supercharge the reopening. Grow the economy. That’s what we would do if we were smart. You’re not going to have a supercharged economy. You’re not going to see this nation get up and start running again, unless we do it together. That’s states working with other states. That’s a federal government that stands up and puts everything else aside.
“They were elected to provide good government. Nobody elected anyone to engage in partisan politics. There was a time when as a nation we were smart enough to say, “You want to play politics? That’s what a campaign is for.” Run your campaign against your opponent. Say all sorts of crazy things. That’s crazy campaign time. But when government starts, stop the politics, and do what’s right and smart. Don’t play your politics at the expense of the citizens you represent. There is no good government concept anymore. It’s politics 365 days a year. From the moment they’re elected to the moment they run again, it’s all politics. And that is poison. We have to get to a point, if only for a moment, if only for a moment, if only for a moment in response to a national crisis where we say it’s not red and blue. It’s red, white, and blue. It’s the United States and we’re going to act that way.
“In New York we say that by saying New York tough, but it’s America tough. Which is smart, and united, and disciplined, and loving, and loving.”
Cuomo said that the ninth of 10 regions, Long Island, began reopening today, joining Mid-Hudson Valley which opened yesterday, the Capital Region, Western New York, Central New York, North Country, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley Regions, which all have met the seven metrics required for Phase One of a multi-phase process. Each of the regions has to have a monitoring commission in place to make sure reopening does not trigger new outbreaks, and that any upticks are addressed.
New York City still has more metrics to complete before it can begin its formal reopening, though the New York Stock Exchange did reopen yesterday.
Governor Cuomo: “States are responsible for the enforcement of all the procedures around reopening but at the same time the federal government has a role to play and the federal government has to do its part as we work our way through this crisis. There cannot be at national recovery if the state and local governments are not funded.”
After the April jobs report showed a loss of 20.5 million jobs and an unemployment rate of 14.7% – the worst since the Great Depression –former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for President, offered these remarks on “Trump’s Disastrous Economy,” saying “it didn’t have to be this way.” Here are the remarks, as prepared for delivery, which provide an alternate to how things could have, should have been handled:
This morning, we received the worst jobs report in history. 20.5 million jobs lost last month, and an unemployment rate now 14.7 percent — the highest it’s been since the Great Depression.
It’s an economic disaster worse than any we have seen in decades — and it’s made all the worse, because it didn’t have to be this way.
Donald Trump utterly failed to prepare for this pandemic and delayed in taking the necessary steps to safeguard our nation against the near-worst-case-economic scenario we are now living.
COVID-19 caused a massive economic challenge. But this crisis hit us harder, and will last longer, because Donald Trump spent the last three years undermining the core pillars of our economic strength.
Many small businesses have closed because of stay-at-home orders. But a lot of them won’t open again because they do not have a cushion due to three years of Trump’s policies that reward the biggest companies.
Yes, many have lost their jobs because of this crisis — but we are seeing so many proud families forced to endure epic lines for food boxes in football stadium parking lots because Donald Trump has spent three years tilting the playing field to the wealthy, and not the middle class.
Trump has loved to crow about the great economy he built. But when the crisis hit, it became clear who that economy has been built to serve. Not workers. Not the middle class. Not families.
Trump’s economic agenda has three unmistakable failings; failings that have been present since day one, but are coming into sharp relief in the current crisis:
First, Donald Trump’s main measure of economic progress is the state of the stock market.
It’s the only metric he values, so it’s the only lens through which he sees our economy.
For the past three years, even as Americans have had to work harder than ever to pay their bills, he’s said the economy was “great” because the stock market was up.
He irresponsibly downplayed and delayed action on the virus to protect the Dow Jones Average, a choice that has so far cost tens of thousands of American lives and millions of American jobs.
Make no mistake: it doesn’t matter how much the market rebounds. As long as there are millions of unemployed people struggling to get by — we won’t be anywhere near bouncing back.
Second, his entire economic strategy is focused on helping the wealthy and big corporations.
Just imagine what we could be doing now with the $2 trillion in tax cuts that Trump delivered for his rich friends as his first priority.
Imagine how much better a position we’d be in right now if — instead of Donald Trump cheering on corporations that spent hundreds of billions buying back their stock — those corporations were using that money to keep workers on their payrolls.
Imagine if, instead of providing incentives to shift jobs overseas – he had ensured we were investing in manufacturing at home.
Imagine how much more resilient our small businesses might be right now if – rather than repeatedly trying to slash the Small Business Administration’s budget – Trump had invested in making them stronger.
Imagine if instead of fighting tooth and nail to take away people’s health insurance, he’d invested in expanding access, so that families didn’t worry that a visit to the hospital would put their finances at risk.
Third, Donald Trump claimed he would fight for the forgotten middle class – and as soon as he got into office, he forgot them.
He’s been President for more than three years, but hasn’t yet followed through on his core economic campaign promises to middle class voters.
He promised to work with Congress to pass a bill to limit offshoring of jobs. He promised to create $1 trillion worth of new infrastructure jobs. He promised to expand child care support.
He said it would all happen before May 2017. It’s now May 2020 and not one of these promises has materialized.
Instead, he’s run the same playbook that has hollowed out our economy time and again over the past four decades.
It always ends up the same way. The rich get richer, the powerful get more power, and everyone else gets told they just need to work harder.
We’ve heard it before — and we’re not buying it.
And if you need proof that Trump’s policies were a failure even before this virus hit, just compare the first 35 months of Trump’s presidency to the last 35 months of the Obama-Biden Administration, hiring was slower and real wages grew more slowly too.
Trump was already well into the process of hollowing out the good economy we left him long before the first case of coronavirus.
The numbers looked good, but underneath the numbers, things were eroding.
But this pandemic has laid bare exactly how much damage Trump has done in just over three years.
Because Donald Trump has gotten the virus response wrong, the jobs and unemployment numbers are just the beginning. His mistakes will also mean it takes more time to recover from this.
We’re already seeing the tell-tale hallmarks of Trump-o-nomics in the way he is implementing the crisis response efforts: no strings, no oversight, no accountability.
I’ve started to think of it as the Corrupt Recovery.
First, Trump made sure we didn’t have an empowered Inspector General to oversee all of this.
And now, we seeing reports that loan money went to Trump’s donors, political allies, and companies with Trump-connected lobbyists.
Here’s how it worked: Trump’s Treasury Department allowed corporations with connections to go right to the front of the line — they got concierge service.
Meanwhile the mom and pop shops that needed help most got shut out.
More than 40 percent of the initial funding designed to support small businesses—didn’t go to real small businesses at all.
The single largest recipient of small-business money was a hotel executive and a major Trump donor.
The Trump Administration let him exploit the loophole to get $59 million in help, and he’s only giving it back now because the press found out.
And, who knows what else we’d find if the Trump Administration would stop hiding the full list of businesses who received help.
This is your money they’re getting.
We’re reading press stories that the Trump Administration is allowing big corporations that take money to lay off their workers, while other big companies are laying off workers then pay-out millions to shareholders.
How hard is it for Trump to say that if you are a major corporation and you are going to receive taxpayer money, you must first use it to take care of your workers?
But it turns out corruption is a feature of the Trump economic agenda, not a bug.
He will pick his wealthy friends, his corporate cronies, over working families every time.
I say it’s time we pick a different way.
In the coming weeks, I’ll be laying out a detailed plan for the right kind of economic recovery. Today, let me outline just a few key principles.
It starts with rebuilding the backbone of this country: a stronger, more inclusive, more resilient middle class – a middle class that can withstand the next public health crisis or whatever else comes our way.
It’s time we make sure everyone gets a fair shot at success, not just the Mar-a-Lago crowd.
Since the very first days of my campaign, I’ve had a simple message:
Wall Street and CEOs didn’t build this country. The middle class built this country. Ordinary women and men who are capable of doing extraordinary things when given half a chance. They built the country.
That’s who I believe in. That’s who I’m in this race to fight for.
Who is out there on the front lines of this crisis? Who are the workers that are literally carrying this nation on their backs?
The doctors and nurses and other health care workers. The EMTs and firefighters and police. The grocery store clerks and the meat packers and the farmers. The delivery drivers and the mass transit workers.
And these heroes are all too often the lowest-paid and the least appreciated members of our society.
But this crisis is showing us what is essential. And, I think it’s time we reward the people who actually make this country work.
I do believe that from this moment, from this crisis, we have the opportunity to not just rebuild our economy—but transform it.
To make our economy more resilient for whatever comes our way in the future.
Making sure everyone has paid sick leave and child care support.
Remaking our system of unemployment insurance into employment insurance, to help keep people in their jobs.
Putting millions and millions of people to work building the new, green economy that will position us to own the 21st century.
Making sure we’re producing here at home the machines and equipment we need to fight the pandemic and ensure public health.
Guaranteeing an education that equips you to succeed,and access to high-quality, affordable health care.
We can restore the basic bargain that used to exist in this country. The bargain was that if you contributed to the success of an enterprise, you shared in the rewards.
And the way we will do that is by empowering our workers. It means encouraging unionization and collective bargaining. It means more protections to ensure fair pay, over-time compensation, worker-safety, and a secure retirement.
We can insist that big corporations – which we’ve bailed out twice in 12 years – set up and take responsibility for their workers and communities. They have to step up to do that.
We can rip out the race-based inequities that infect every part of our society— from the pollution being pumped into the air and water in communities of color to the health care treatment they receive.
I’ll have more to say on all this in the weeks ahead, but here’s what it comes down to: we can choose who our economy, our government, and our country works for.
Just the wealthy — or everyone else as well. All of us together. All of us together.
That’s the choice we must make – all of us together – this November. It could not be more stark what the choice is.
I’d like to end today by saying thank you to all of our front line workers who are working day in and day out to keep our nation afloat during this crisis. And who are risking their personal health and safety in the process.
And to everyone, to everyone who is struggling with this virus who I talk to or grieving a lost loved one or losing sleep worrying about how you are going to make ends meet for another week — I want to offer my heartfelt condolences.
But I know that we will get through this. We’ll get through it together. I know because I know the American spirit, and the American character. We’re seeing it on display every day.
The proof that there’s nothing, nothing we cannot accomplish when we stand together—one nation, united in purpose, taking care of our neighbors, committing to get the job done.
That’s what has seen us through every moment of crisis in our past — it will see us through again today. It will empower us to write the future we want for our country and our children.
There’s no quit in America. None at all. We’re going to get through this.
As the unprecedented number of Americans filing unemployment claims rose once again, Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president, announced a new plan to transform unemployment insurance into Employment Insurance for millions of workers by getting all 50 states to adopt and dramatically scale up short-time compensation programs.
Vice President Biden released the following statement on today’s unemployment claims and his new plan on scaling up employment insurance:
Today, we learned that another 5.2 million people have filed unemployment claims, bringing the total to more than 22 million in the last month.
This dire economic dislocation stems from the need to protect public health through strong social distancing measures. But let’s not forget: these measures are required to the extent they are because we didn’t prepare early enough, and when the virus surfaced in our communities, we didn’t test sufficiently to contain it. This pain is a product of poor decision making by Donald Trump.
With true American spirit, workers did not hesitate to sacrifice to save the lives of fellow citizens. But even as we temporarily shrink economic activity, there’s no reason why the incomes of working people must shrink, too.
As we navigate this crisis, our paramount economic priority must be to make American workers whole, so they retain their income and benefits during this period of social distancing. For the workers that are laid off, we should swiftly compensate for lost wages and health benefits for all of them, not just those who can make it through the bureaucracy.
But we should also be doing more — much more — to reduce the number of people who are laid off in the first place. We should be committed to keeping as many people as possible attached to their employment, so they can easily return to work when appropriate, and maintain their income and benefits.
This is more than just the right thing to do — it is the surest road to a rapid recovery, because the faster everyone returns to their jobs, the faster we can improve demand and get our economy running again.
The Trump Administration has been given a number of extraordinary tools to make this happen — to keep people employed. Yet, they are failing to use them effectively. For more people to stay in their jobs, Donald Trump has to do his job.
As this crisis continues to unfold, I will be putting forward ideas to not only better address the immediate needs of working Americans, but also what is needed for long-term, structural reform to make our economy work for all its people.
So today, as we see these chilling numbers of job losses — each one a mother or father, a neighbor or friend, a proud, hardworking American — I am calling for a bigger and bolder approach to keeping people on the job in times of crisis. That idea is called “short-time compensation” or “work-sharing.” I call it Employment Insurance.
The Biden Plan to Scale Up Employment Insurance by Reforming Short-Time Compensation Programs
Transform unemployment insurance into Employment Insurance for millions of workers by getting all 50 states to adopt and dramatically scale up short-time compensation programs. Under short-time compensation — also known as work sharing — firms in distress keep workers employed but at reduced hours and the federal government helps make up the difference in wages. The Obama-Biden administration championed this approach in the U.S., and so far 27 states have established short-time compensation programs.
These programs must become more flexible and attractive to both employers and employees, so that as many workers as possible can remain attached to their jobs and receive full wages and health benefits during crisis times, even if employers must significantly cut their hours.
Germany has long used short-time work programs to protect jobs in recessions, so that workers are ready to hit the ground running as the economy improves. And this approach is especially well suited to the current moment, when we can expect a more gradual recovery in certain sectors, with some businesses operating a partial capacity for an extended period.
In short, we should start thinking of this as Employment Insurance more than Unemployment Insurance.
For the current crisis, the administration should move rapidly to scale up short-time compensation to save or restore millions of jobs. Specifically:
Small businesses who use this program must be able to get help to cover their worker’s benefits as well as their other costs, like rent and non-payroll overhead, as they are partially shut down through the crisis. Companies that fulfill the goal of payroll protection by using work sharing should not be punished by being excluded from any small business program for loans or forgiveness that is tied to essential overhead in proportion to their fall in revenues.
The federal government should temporarily waive the need for states to “experience rate” companies, that is, force employers to pay higher taxes in the future if they use short-time compensation now.
These are crisis measures, but we can and should do more to strengthen short-time compensation to prevent layoffs in future downturns, learning lessons from other nations and from those states in America that have been leading the way.
As President, Joe Biden would pursue permanent reform of short-time compensation, through the following steps:
Establish 100% federal financing: Currently, states bear the burden of paying for short-time compensation, except in emergencies. Yet, state unemployment funds are already straining under the burden of unprecedented numbers of unemployment claims. Joe Biden would call for short-time compensation to be 100% permanently funded by the federal government to catalyze far greater use of short-time compensation that can keep workers working and connected to their benefits and work relationships.
Secure participation from all 50 states, DC, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands: 23 states still have not established short-time compensation programs. This initiative is too important to leave out millions of Americans. Joe Biden would make it a top priority, using a mix of conditioned assistance and additional incentives, to ensure universal participation, consistent with Supreme Court precedent in Dole and Sebelius.
Create a tax credit for employers’ extra health care costs: Employers must currently provide full health benefits for employees even if they are reducing hours. While it is crucial that employees keep their full benefits, having to fund the full health care costs of workers when they are seeing a significant fall in revenue can discourage companies from choosing short-time compensation over layoffs. Joe Biden would create a refundable tax credit that would reimburse companies as well as non-profits for the extra costs of providing full health benefits of all their workers during a period of work hour reductions.
Raise caps on employer work reductions: States usually cap work hour reductions at 40% to 60%. If your hours go down more than that, you can’t participate. In deep downturns, companies may need to reduce hours even further to prevent layoffs. Raising those caps to 80%, with waivers for extreme circumstances, will help employers keep people in their jobs, even in severe recessions.
Launch a major awareness campaign to improve business participation rates. During the last recession, Rhode Island had much greater participation in its short-time compensation program than the national average. One study from the Brookings Institution found that the chief reason for that was that the state “aggressively marketed work sharing to employers engaged in layoffs during the Great Recession and made use of the media to highlight potential work-sharing benefits.” Joe Biden would take a Rhode Island-style marketing campaign nationwide.
Build automatic triggers based on economic and public health conditions. Enhancements to short-time compensation and unemployment insurance tied to the COVID-19 crisis should be automatically extended based on economic and health conditions, and renewed in future crises. Workers and businesses should not be held hostage by partisans in Congress.
MINNEAPOLIS, MN — Today, Senator Amy Klobuchar released a plan to prepare for and respond to the coronavirus in rural America.
As a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Senator Klobuchar has long been a leader in tackling the challenges that rural communities face. She believes our country needs to take immediate action to respond to the pandemic’s spread to rural America by strengthening rural hospitals and rural health care systems, supporting farmers and ensuring the continuity of the agricultural supply chain, and helping small businesses, workers and other critical aspects of the rural economy.
“We’re facing a national crisis — it affects every American, no matter where they live,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar. “While COVID-19 may be slower to spread to some rural areas, its impact will likely be just as serious, as we’ve seen in places like Albany, Georgia and Martin County, Minnesota. From expanding access to health care, to supporting farmers, to helping small businesses, we need to ensure that all communities across rural America are not left behind and have the resources they need to respond to this pandemic.”
Plan to Prepare For and Respond to the Coronavirus in Rural America
The coronavirus pandemic is a national crisis — it affects every American, no matter where they live. While COVID-19 may be slower to spread to some rural areas, its impact is expected to be as serious as it has been in urban areas. Rural Americans are more vulnerable to the virus but are often less able to access treatment. Rural Americans are more likely to be older and have serious chronic medical conditions — two of the greatest risk factors for severe illness from COVID-19. At the same time, people living in rural America are more likely to be poor and uninsured, making it difficult for them to afford treatment. And many rural hospitals and health care systems have fewer ICU beds and resources and could quickly become overwhelmed if they experience even a minor surge in critical patients.
Many rural communities are already facing these challenges. In Georgia, the rural city of Albany has been badly hit by pandemic — in early April it had one of the highest percentages of confirmed cases anywhere in the country and the National Guard has been deployed to help the local hospital. The town, whose residents are predominantly African American, also highlights the impact that our country’s response to the virus in rural America has on people of color — one in five rural Americans is a person of color or an indigenous person, and the coronavirus appears to be infecting and killing people of color at a disproportionately high rate.
In addition to the public health crisis rural communities are confronting, they are also facing an economic crisis. The farming and agriculture industry is seeing major disruptions due to the coronavirus, which will not only hurt rural areas, but could lead to higher food prices for consumers across the country. Small businesses, which are the backbone of many rural economies, are being hit hard, and rural workers are struggling to access child care, broadband, and many other critical services during the pandemic.
As a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Senator Klobuchar has long been a leader in tackling the challenges that rural communities face. She believes our country needs to take immediate action to respond to the pandemic’s spread to rural America by strengthening rural hospitals and rural health care systems, supporting farmers and ensuring the continuity of the agricultural supply chain, and helping small businesses, workers, and other critical aspects of the rural economy. The only way to beat this pandemic is to fight the virus together, and that means making sure that every community — from the biggest city to the smallest town — has the resources and support they need to respond to this crisis.
Rural Health Care
Rural health care systems are on the front lines of combating the coronavirus, but many are facing shortages of critical resources that they will need to treat patients — from ICU beds and ventilators, to doctors, nurses and other health care workers staffing the hospitals, to testing and personal protective equipment. We need to anticipate these challenges in areas that haven’t yet seen a surge in cases and make sure that we’re getting rural health care systems the support they need to keep people safe.
Rural Hospitals and Health Clinics
Provide rural hospitals the resources they need to confront the pandemic. Rural hospitals, including Critical Access Hospitals, provide essential medical services to rural communities, but they also often have smaller operating margins than larger hospitals. Right now, they face added financial pressure due to increased expenditures to prepare for an influx of patients with COVID-19 at the same time they have had to cancel elective procedures, which are normally a major source of revenue. We need to take action to make sure these hospitals remain able to serve rural communities, especially during this crisis. Senator Klobuchar is calling for an expedited process with dedicated support for Critical Access Hospitals and other rural hospitals to immediately receive grants and loans they need to purchase supplies, modify their facilities, and pay their staff. She is pushing for an expansion of the $100 billion Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund so that funding is available for hospitals that are likely to experience a surge of patients later in the crisis, including many in rural America. She is also calling for a longer timeline for repayment and other necessary flexibility under the Medicare Accelerated Payments Program so rural hospitals have the time they need to regain their financial footing and she is calling for changes to ensure that small publicly-owned hospitals are eligible for the Payment Protection Program. In addition, Senator Klobuchar has championed legislation to help hospitals in rural areas stay open by creating a new Rural Emergency Hospital classification under Medicare to give hospitals more support if they maintain an emergency room and provide outpatient services. She also supports providing ongoing financial relief by making the suspension of the two percent Medicare automatic reimbursement cut permanent for rural hospitals and considering what other temporary relief may need to be extended to allow rural hospitals to recover financially from the impact of the pandemic.
Temporarily reopen recently closed rural hospitals when possible. Senator Klobuchar is calling for the Department of Health and Human Services to explore funding and regulatory flexibility to temporarily reopen some of the over 120 rural hospitals that have closed in the last decade. Temporarily reopened facilities could help provide overflow support to hospitals that have reached capacity and provide an option for basic levels of care for rural residents to limit pressure on larger hospitals.
Support rural health clinics. Many rural communities don’t have easy access to a hospital and instead rely on rural clinics for their health care. We need to make sure that these clinics have the resources they need to effectively diagnose and treat patients who may not need to be hospitalized, or who come to them before hospitalization. Senator Klobuchar is calling for increased support for the USDA’s Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program, additional support for community health centers — over half of which are in rural areas — and specifically targeting additional small business assistance to health care providers. To strengthen the long-term financial health of rural health care providers, Senator Klobuchar supports adjusting Medicare’s geographic practice cost index to reflect the actual costs of providing health care in rural areas.
Health Care Workers and Supplies
Strengthen the rural health care workforce. On average, rural areas have half as many physicians per capita as urban areas, and rural areas face shortages of nurses, physicians assistants, specialists, and other medical providers. Senator Klobuchar is calling on the Department of Health and Human Services to provide the maximum possible flexibility to rural health providers to develop adaptable staffing plans to respond to increased demand and compensate for workers who may become sick or need to isolate. She has also called on the Department of Homeland Security to provide additional flexibility for foreign medical workers in the United States on temporary visas. Many health care workers in rural areas are also facing challenges with child care, especially in child care deserts that already have a shortage of child care facilities. Senator Klobuchar is calling for dedicated funding to set up temporary child care facilities for health care and other critical workers in child care deserts. To address rural workforce shortages more broadly, Senator Klobuchar supports building on the Conrad 30 program that allows international doctors trained in the United States to extend their stay in the country if they agree to practice in underserved communities. She also supports expanding student loan forgiveness programs for health care and long-term care workers practicing in underserved areas.
Ensure rural areas have access to necessary medical supplies and testing. Medical facilities across the country face a shortage of necessary medical supplies including personal protective equipment, testing supplies, hospital beds, and ventilators. As competition for supplies has intensified, rural health providers, with less available cash and smaller economies of scale, are at a significant disadvantage. Senator Klobuchar is calling for additional funding to hospitals to purchase these critical supplies and specific consideration of the needs of rural areas when designing federal, state, and regional supply distribution strategies and when allocating equipment from the National Strategic Stockpile.
Health Policies that Work for Rural America
Target public health messages for rural areas. The coronavirus pandemic is a national crisis and public health communications should reflect all parts of the country. Senator Klobuchar is calling for consistent and targeted messages from public health agencies to highlight the importance of preparation and prevention in rural areas. Public health officials also need to provide practical information to those living in rural areas who cannot stay at home for financial, medical or safety reasons and may need to continue to travel significant distances during the pandemic.
Address racial disparities in health outcomes. Senator Klobuchar is calling for the Department of Health and Human Services to provide rural health systems information and tools they need to address racial disparities in health outcomes from coronavirus. She has also called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide demographic and racial data about the impact of coronavirus and for the Administration to increase outreach to minority communities disproportionately impacted by the virus, including those living in rural areas.
Increase regional collaboration. Small rural health care providers are less likely to have additional resources to reallocate internally to respond to sudden increases in demand or shortages of personnel and equipment. Senator Klobuchar is calling for the Department of Health and Human Services to develop best practices for local regional cooperation among health care providers during the pandemic. She will also push for needed regulatory flexibility and additional funding for the Hospital Preparedness Program to facilitate cooperative agreements.
Expand access to telehealth and virtual visits. Telehealth services can protect patients and providers from exposure to coronavirus while still responding to patients’ medical needs. This is even more important in rural areas where patients could otherwise have to travel long distances to receive care, further increasing the possibility of exposure and transmission. To build on the temporary flexibility already provided for some telehealth services, Senator Klobuchar is leading bipartisan legislation to expand telehealth programs and support access to technology for virtual visits to help protect vulnerable populations from possible exposure to the virus. She also supports permanently reforming Medicare telehealth rules that unfairly limit coverage and reimbursement so that rural communities can continue to benefit from strong telehealth options after the pandemic.
Farmers and Agriculture
Spring is a critical planting and harvesting time for many American farmers, and they are facing major disruptions due to the pandemic. If farmers are unable to plant their crops or get their goods to market, that could devastate many rural economies and hurt consumers, who will see higher prices for their food at a time when budgets are already stretched too thin. We need to make sure that we are providing farmers and farm workers with the support they need to survive this crisis and continue to get food to Americans across the country who need it.
Immediate Support for Farmers
Provide farmers financial relief. The coronavirus pandemic is causing new disruptions across the agricultural sector for producers who have already been dealing with persistently low commodity prices, economic uncertainty, and tight farm lending regulations. Senator Klobuchar has called for the Farm Service Agency to provide clear guidance, consider targeted loan forgiveness measures, and expand efforts to ensure farmers have reliable access to credit. She is calling on USDA to fully use the Agricultural Mediation Program to resolve credit issues in a way that works for both farmers and lenders. Senator Klobuchar is also calling for the Small Business Administration to allow for the broadest possible access to the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loans in rural America, including by allowing Farm Credit System institutions to serve as lenders where many farmers and rural businesses have already established relationships. Building off bipartisan legislation led by Senator Klobuchar that was recently passed into law to expand access to Chapter 12 bankruptcy for family farmers, Senator Klobuchar is also calling for outreach to farmers about eligibility for and the benefits of this option, which allows family farmers to reorganize and keep the farm after falling on hard times.
Address low commodity prices. As a senior member of the Agriculture Committee, Senator Klobuchar worked to write and pass three farm bills with strong farm safety nets for our farmers. These safety nets are more important than ever as farmers, ranchers and other agricultural producers are facing direct losses from disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic and futures for most agricultural products indicate that these losses are likely to continue. These losses are being experienced across the board with reports of dairy farmers suffering $5.7 billion in losses in the last five weeks, hog producers estimating they will lose $37 per pig for the remainder of the year, and cattle ranchers facing a 30 percent loss to the value of their cattle since the beginning of the year. Senator Klobuchar is calling for additional short-term support to producers as needed through dedicated disaster funding and the Commodities Credit Corporation. To provide stability for farmers as they recover from the effects of the pandemic, Senator Klobuchar is calling for indexing farm safety net support levels to reflect changes in our country’s cost of production, low commodity prices, and loss of global market access. She is also calling for fully funding permanent disaster programs and improving support levels, loan rates and program delivery. Senator Klobuchar also is pushing for improving and expanding commodity support and federal crop insurance programs and increasing the average premium subsidy for crop insurance.
Protecting Farm Workers
Protect farm workers and food processors on the job. Workers on farms and at food processing facilities often work in crowded conditions that present an opportunity for the spread of coronavirus. Senator Klobuchar is calling for updated Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules to keep these workers safe, increased training on best practices available in appropriate languages, and support for farms and businesses to provide appropriate personal protective equipment to employees and adjust their operations to lower the likelihood of coronavirus transmission among their workers. The closure of the Smithfield Foods processing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, demonstrates how the lack of national testing and public health response can disrupt food supplies and put workers at risk.
Support health and safety for agricultural workers. Many agricultural workers lack access to health care and housing appropriate for social distancing or quarantining. Senator Klobuchar is calling for increased support for the National Center for Farmworker Health and other programs at the Health Resources and Services Administration that support farm worker health. In addition, she is calling for emergency housing for agricultural workers to limit the spread of the virus among workers at home, provide a safe place for workers who need to self quarantine, and to make it easier for unemployed Americans to relocate to areas where agricultural jobs may be available. She is also calling on the Administration to provide clear, long-term guidance that will allow immigration programs for temporary farm workers to operate at a level consistent with past years even as consular services are reduced.
Ensuring the Continuity of the Supply Chain
Ensure the continuity of the food supply chain. Complex supply chains connect farmers to consumers. Disruptions in any portion of the supply chain can ripple through and create additional challenges for producers or shortages for consumers, especially when it comes to highly perishable products such as fruits and vegetables. Among others, truck drivers play a critical role in this supply chain. Senator Klobuchar is calling for actions to protect the safety of workers throughout the supply chain and minimize disruptions of interstate freight operations. That means clear federal standards and enforcement for employee health and safety, exemptions from travel restrictions for workers critical to supply chains, temporary flexibility on commercial drivers license renewals, and efforts to maintain rest areas and other services important to the safety of commercial vehicle operators. She also is calling for emergency funding for ports and other intermodal facilities that may see temporary reductions in demand but will be essential for responding to shifting supply chains as the pandemic progresses. She is calling for additional flexibility for USDA inspectors to increase the use of virtual certifications and overtime as necessary to compensate for inspectors who are sick or quarantined.
Help producers transition to new supply chains. Some producers who normally sell to commercial food services operators or farmers markets and need to temporarily find new supply chains to connect them to grocery stores and other customers facing increased demand. Senator Klobuchar is calling for increased support for establishing alternate supply chains including through programs such as the Value-Added Producer Grant program, Local Agriculture Market Program, and Regional Food System Partnerships.
Responding to Changing Demand for Food and Fuel
Promote food security. As unemployment rises and many families face reduced incomes, demand for nutritional assistance from the federal government and charitable organizations is increasing. Senator Klobuchar is calling for expanding the maximum Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit, increasing the size of the benefit provided for teenage family members and expanding the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer for Children. These policies should be made permanent as recommended in a National Academies of Science Report on how to reduce child poverty by half in ten years, but at minimum they need to be extended through the duration of the economic recovery that will follow the immediate health emergency. Senator Klobuchar is calling for the Administration to authorize the use of the Disaster Household Distribution nationwide to provide increased flexibility to food banks during the pandemic. She is also urging the Administration to end rulemakings currently in progress that make it harder to qualify for SNAP by restricting categorical eligibility, changing the way utility costs are calculated, and giving states less flexibility during times of high unemployment.
Support homegrown energy. Senator Klobuchar believes that homegrown biofuels are key to our rural economies, our nation’s energy security, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. She has been a leader when it comes to standing up to the Administration’s misuse of small refinery renewable fuel standard (RFS) waivers, and she authored an amendment that was included in the Farm Bill that provides mandatory funding to support biobased marketing and manufacturing. As demand for fuel has dramatically declined, many biofuel producers are being forced to idle plants and layoff workers. Senator Klobuchar is calling for temporary relief for the biofuels sector from the Commodity Credit Corporation. In addition, to strengthen the long-term outlook for biofuel production in the United States, Senator Klobuchar supports strengthening the RFS, promoting the use of blender bumps, passing a law to ensure year-round E-15 sales, and extending the biodiesel and second generation biofuels tax credits.
Rural Workers and Businesses
Like the rest of America, rural economies are getting hit hard by this crisis. Many rural workers and businesses will face unique challenges getting back on their feet, and we need to make sure that they are getting the support they need to make it through the pandemic.
A Path to Recovery for Small Businesses
Provide small businesses the relief they need. Small businesses are the lifeblood of many rural communities, and are being hit extremely hard during this pandemic. If small businesses in rural America close for good, entire towns will suffer. That’s why Senator Klobuchar, along with Senators Chris Coons and Ben Cardin, secured a provision in the CARES Act that provides six months of relief on SBA loan payments for 320,000 small businesses — but more needs to be done. Senator Klobuchar is calling for an expansion of the Paycheck Protection Program created in the CARES Act to provide sufficient funding to get rural small businesses through the crisis. She is also calling for targeted tax relief to allow businesses to preserve cash and additional relief for businesses struggling with rent, mortgage, and insurance premiums. She has also introduced legislation to create a Treasury Department program to partner with states and private investors to help fund new businesses in parts of the country that have a shortage of equity investments in new businesses, with a focus on businesses founded by women and people of color.
Increase technical assistance for small businesses. The number and complexity of programs designed to provide support for small businesses can make access assistance difficult in some instances. Many small businesses in rural areas work closely with community banks and credit unions who are well positioned to provide advice based on their understanding of local conditions. That’s why Senator Klobuchar supports reserving a portion of future small business relief for distribution through community-based financial institutions. She is also calling on the Small Business Administration to make sure their outreach and education efforts reach small businesses in rural areas and address their needs and for Congress to provide additional support for nonprofit organizations assisting small businesses to retain staff.
Provide ongoing support to rural small businesses. Small businesses in rural areas face additional obstacles in accessing credit because many traditional lenders do not have the infrastructure and experience to effectively serve rural America. Senator Klobuchar is calling for expanding and strengthening USDA’s Business and Industry Loan Guarantee Program and the Rural Business Investment Program and continued support for the Farm Credit System. Senator Klobuchar will strengthen USDA programs that support entrepreneurs like the Value-Added Producer Grants, Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program, Intermediary Relending Program, and Agricultural Innovation Centers. She will push to reauthorize the New Market Tax Credit and make sure it effectively serves rural America.
Ensure federal investments reach communities suffering from decades of neglect. When it comes to long-term economic development investments to help communities recover from the economic crisis caused by the pandemic, Senator Klobuchar is calling for adopting Congressman Jim Clyburn’s 10–20–30 plan, which Senator Cory Booker has also led in the Senate, in which 10 percent of federal resources are committed to communities where at least 20 percent of the population has been living below the poverty line for 30 years or more, many of which are in rural areas.
Standing up for Rural Workers
Support the service sector. While agriculture is a significant part of rural economies, the service sector actually employs the largest number of workers in rural counties — and these jobs are being hit hard by the crisis. We need to make sure these workers are able to continue to make ends meet and provide for their families during and after the pandemic. The CARES Act included critical relief for workers — including direct cash payments, expanded unemployment insurance that covers self-employed workers and gig workers, and temporary relief for borrowers with federal student loans — but more needs to be done. Senator Klobuchar is calling for expanding paid leave to cover additional workers, enforceable standards from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to protect workers from exposure to coronavirus, and making sure rural businesses of all sizes can access support and incentives to retain and rehire workers.
Expand access to child care. Rural communities experience unique challenges when it comes to child care, as nearly two-thirds of rural families live in a child care desert, meaning an area where there are at least three young children for every licensed child care slot — or no licensed child care providers at all. The closure of schools has created additional challenges for essential workers who need to find child care while they provide critical services. Senator Klobuchar is calling for expanding assistance in rural areas by further increasing funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant and increasing the subsidy rate so that rural child care providers can more easily meet their operating expenses and increase the quality of their programs. She also supports limiting child care payments to 7 percent of a family’s income and making targeted investments to build the supply of licensed child care in rural child care deserts.
Living in Rural America
From the lack of broadband access to child care deserts, living in rural America during this pandemic can pose unique challenges. We need to take action to make sure that families in rural communities have the resources they need to continue to live their lives during this pandemic.
Ensuring Families Have the Resources to Succeed
Improve broadband access. Roughly one in four rural Americans say access to high-speed internet is a major problem. Access to broadband increases options for employment, health care, education, and staying in touch with loved ones during the pandemic. During a time when schools are switching their classes to distance learning, rural and low-income students without broadband access are at a particular disadvantage. We must make sure that rural and low-income families have access to resources to help them access broadband. That’s why Senator Klobuchar has introduced legislation to provide $2 billion for a new Keeping Critical Connections Emergency Fund to help connect low-income families and students who have switched to distance learning by compensating small providers who offer free or discounted broadband services or upgrades. She has also called for additional funding for the E-Rate program, including support to provide WiFi hotspots to students without broadband connections.
Support rural education. Rural school districts typically have fewer students, face higher transportation costs and have fewer options for professional development compared to urban school districts. Senator Klobuchar is calling for formulas, flexibility, and guidance for federal and state support to school districts that take into account the unique needs of rural districts to ensure they receive equitable funding. She is also calling for additional support for rural school districts that are distributing meals to students who are unable to pick them up at school, including working with local agricultural producers to incorporate fresh food when possible.
Increase support for affordable housing. Before the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, 54 million Americans lived in rural areas with a severe need for more affordable rental housing. With millions of Americans facing unemployment through no fault of their own, even more Americans are now likely to need housing assistance. Senator Klobuchar is calling for strong enforcement of the temporary moratorium on evictions for properties with federally-backed mortgages and an extension of the moratorium if economic conditions have not significantly improved by the time it is set to expire. She will also push for any emergency rental assistance funding to be fairly distributed to renters living in rural areas. Senator Klobuchar also supports strengthening rural rental assistance programs and significantly increasing investments in the rural housing supply by the federal government and through incentives to private lenders.
Maintaining Important Government Services
Support local governments. Many rural counties and municipalities already faced tight budgets before the pandemic. Now they are spending money to change how services are delivered during the pandemic and are seeing higher levels of demand for many services. At the same time, sources of revenue such as sales taxes are declining. Since many of these governments also have smaller workforces, any absences due to illness or quarantine can also have a disproportionate effect on their ability to provide essential services. Senator Klobuchar is calling for additional federal support for local governments, including direct federal support for smaller and rural local governments. .
Maintain a reliable Postal Service. A reliable Postal Service providing consistent mail delivery has always been important in rural areas, including for mail-order prescription drugs, and is even more important when people are staying home and practicing social distancing. However, the steep decline in mail volume caused by the pandemic, combined with ongoing financial difficulties, has created a crisis for the Postal Service. Senator Klobuchar is calling for immediate financial relief for the Postal Service and increased flexibility for the Postal Service to respond to workforce shortages caused by the coronavirus while maintaining the highest possible delivery standards that prioritize medical deliveries and account for the needs of rural America. She will also continue to stand up against attempts to privatize this essential public service.
Protect consumers from bad actors. While most Americans are coming together to do our part to fight the pandemic, some bad actors are using the crisis to take advantage of people. There are widespread reports of price gouging, which can be a particular problem in rural America where consumers are less likely to be able to find alternative vendors for the supplies they need. To address this, Senator Klobuchar has introduced legislation to outlaw price gouging during pandemics, natural disasters, and other emergencies and to empower the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to fine those trying to unfairly profit off of disasters. There are also increasing reports of scams, especially those targeting seniors. Senator Klobuchar has called on the FTC to step up its education and enforcement efforts to stop scammers, and she leads bipartisan legislation in the Senate to give the FTC additional tools to prevent and respond to fraud targeting seniors.
BURLINGTON, Vt. – Sen. Bernie Sanders on Friday released a list of priorities to ensure the next coronavirus legislation passed by Congress is the boldest legislation in history, matches the scale of the crisis, saves lives and ensures working Americans are not left behind.
“We are in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic that could lead to the death of hundreds of thousands of Americans and infect millions of others, and we are entering an economic downturn that could be worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s.” Sanders said. “In this unprecedented moment in modern American history, it is imperative that we respond in an unprecedented way. That means that Congress must pass, in the very near future, the boldest piece of legislation ever written in modern history. Today, I am outlining a set of six core provisions that must be included in new Congressional legislation to support working people during this horrific crisis.”
Sanders’ priorities include:
Keep workers on payroll – make sure that every worker in America continues to receive their paycheck, retroactive to the beginning of the crisis. An important precedent was set by keeping airline workers on payroll in the last bill
Use Medicare to make sure no one has to pay for health care during the crisis
A $2,000 monthly emergency payment to every person in the country until the crisis has passed
The forceful use of the Defense Production Act to direct the production of all of the personnel protective equipment, ventilators and other medical supplies
Hazard pay for workers on the frontlines of the emergency
$600 billion in direct fiscal aid to states and cities
Freezing monthly rent and mortgage payments
Emergency food for millions of families who would otherwise go hungry
In a mailing to supporters, Sanders described his priorities in more detail:
Our country is now facing its worst crisis in modern history. We are in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic that could lead to the death of hundreds of thousands of Americans and infect millions of others, and we are entering an economic downturn that could be worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Last week, 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment. This week that number doubled to 6.6 million claims — ten times higher than any other week on record. It is certain that well over 10 million people have lost their jobs — more than in the Wall Street crash of 2008.
In this unprecedented moment in modern American history, it is imperative that we respond in an unprecedented way. And that means that Congress must pass, in the very near future, the boldest piece of legislation ever written in modern history.
There are many, many issues that must be addressed in our response to this pandemic, and working together, we will make sure they are addressed.
1. Addressing the Employment Crisis and Providing Immediate Financial Relief
There is little doubt in my mind that we are facing an economic crisis that could be even worse than the Great Depression. The St. Louis Federal Reserve has projected that 47 million more people may become unemployed by the end of June, with unemployment reaching 32 percent. In my view, we must make sure that every worker in America continues to receive their paycheck during this crisis and we must provide immediate financial relief to everyone in this country.
An important precedent for that approach was taken in the recent stimulus package in which grants were provided to the airlines for the sole purpose of maintaining the paychecks and benefits of some 2 million workers in that industry through September 30. We must expand that program to cover every worker in America and we must make it retroactive to the beginning of this crisis. This is not a radical idea. Other countries, such as the UK, Norway, Denmark, France, and others have all come up with similar approaches to sustain their economy and prevent workers from losing their jobs.
Our primary goal during this crisis must be to prevent the disintegration of the American economy. It will be much easier and less expensive to prevent the collapse of the economy than trying to put it back together after it collapses.
To do this, we must also begin monthly payments of $2,000 for every man, woman, and child in our country, and guarantee paid family leave throughout this crisis so that people who are sick do not face the choice of infecting others or losing their job.
2. We Must Guarantee Health Care to All
Let’s be clear: we were facing a catastrophic health care crisis before the pandemic, and now that crisis has become much, much worse. Already, 87 million people are uninsured or underinsured. Layoffs will mean tens of millions of people more will lose their current insurance — which will result in countless deaths and bankruptcies. Already in the last two weeks, an estimated 3.5 million people have lost their employer-sponsored insurance.
And as the pandemic grows, we are seeing more and more reports of people who have delayed treatment due to concerns about cost. In this pandemic, uninsurance will lead to deaths and more COVID-19 transmissions.
Therefore, during this crisis, Medicare must be empowered to pay all of the deductibles, co-payments and out-of-pocket healthcare expenses for the uninsured and the underinsured. No one in America who is sick, regardless of immigration status, should be afraid to seek the medical treatment they need during this national pandemic. Let me be clear: I am not proposing that we pass Medicare for All in this moment. That fight continues into the future. But, for the moment, we must act boldly to make sure everyone can get the health care they need in the coming months.
3. Use the Defense Production Act to Produce the Equipment and Testing We Need
Unbelievably, in the United States right now, doctors and nurses are unnecessarily putting their lives on the line treating people suffering from the coronavirus because they lack personal protective equipment like masks, gloves, and surgical gowns. The CDC has directed health professionals to use homemade gear like bandanas or scarves and some workers at the VA are being told to re-use one surgical mask for a week at a time. HHS estimated that our country needs 3.5 billion masks in response to this crisis.
President Trump has utilized the Defense Production Act thousands of times for the military and for enforcement of his immigration policies, yet he has resisted using its power to save lives during the pandemic. That is unacceptable. We must immediately and forcefully use the Defense Production Act to direct the production of all of the personal protective equipment, ventilators and other medical supplies needed.
We must also utilize this power to produce antibody tests so we can begin figuring out who has already contracted the virus and has developed some immunity to COVID-19.
In addition, OSHA must adopt a strong emergency standard to protect health care workers, patients, and the public during this crisis. We must crack down aggressively on price gougers and hoarders, and use any means necessary to secure supplies.
4. Make Sure No One Goes Hungry
Even before this crisis hit, one in every seven kids in America was going hungry and nearly 5.5 million seniors in our country struggled with hunger. Already in this crisis we see lines at food banks and growing concern that our most vulnerable communities and those recently unemployed may struggle to feed their families.
As communities face record levels of food insecurity, we must increase SNAP benefits, expand the WIC program for pregnant mothers, infants, and children, double funding for the Emergency Food Program (TEFAP) to ensure food banks have food to distribute, and expand Meals on Wheels and School Meals programs. When necessary, we must also develop new approaches to deliver food to vulnerable populations — including door-to-door drop offs.
5. Provide Emergency Aid to States and Cities
Even as state and local employees like police officers, firefighters and paramedics work on the front lines of this pandemic, states and cities that pay their salaries are facing enormous budgetary pressures.
Congress must provide $600 billion in direct fiscal aid to states and cities to ensure they have the personnel and funding necessary to respond to this crisis. In addition, the Federal Reserve must establish programs to provide direct fiscal support and budgetary relief to states and municipalities.
6. Suspend Monthly Payments
Even before this crisis, half of the people in our country were living paycheck to paycheck. In America today, over 18 million families are paying more than 50 percent of their income on housing. Now, with growing unemployment, families are facing financial ruin if we do not act quickly and boldly.
That’s why we must suspend monthly expenses like rent, mortgages, medical debt and consumer debt collection for 4 months. We must cancel all student loan payments for the duration of this crisis, and place an immediate moratorium on evictions, foreclosures, and utility shut-offs.
Brothers and sisters: In this unprecedented moment in our history it is easy to feel like we are alone, and that everyone must fend for themselves. But that would be a mistake and a terrible tragedy. Now, more than any other moment in our lives, we must remember that we are all in this together — that when one of us gets sick, many more may get sick. And when my neighbor loses their job, I may lose my job as well.
Further, we cannot wait until our economy collapses to act. It will be far easier and less expensive to act now, in a very bold way, than to try to rebuild our country later.
If we work together and unite behind these basic principles of economic and health justice, I am confident that we will not only get through this unprecedented crisis together but that we will lay the groundwork for a better and more just America in the future.
The proposal put forward by Sanders today is backed by several progressive groups.
“Half of Veterans are over age 65, and we disproportionately suffer from preexisting conditions and economic challenges which make the COVID-19 pandemic particularly devastating for our community,” Common Defense Director Alex McCoy said. “Meanwhile, countless workers at the Department of Veterans Affairs are making extraordinary sacrifices to save lives, while going without sufficient protective equipment. Senator Sanders’ plan for Phase 4 of COVID-19 response takes the bold steps which are absolutely essential to saving countless lives and preventing immeasurable economic hardship. We must immediately implement his proposals to provide Americans with a financial lifeline, and pivot our industrial capacity to produce sufficient supplies. We applaud Senator Sanders for demonstrating real leadership in this crisis and centering the tangible needs of ordinary people, while Donald Trump downplays the threat and weaponizes aid to give favors to his political allies and bail-outs to his favorite corporate CEOs.”
“Senator Sanders’ economic rescue principles speak to the bold, fast action needed to protect and support people, and prevent corporations from consolidating economic and political power amidst a crisis,” People’s Action Director George Goehl said. “We urge him to build on this strong framework by including a Rent Zero policy in the short term: no rent or mortgage payments during the crisis, no late fees, and no debts from housing obligations during the crisis.”
“Bernie’s plan for the fourth phase of a federal legislative response centers people, not corporations. It is about helping us survive with the cash assistance, healthcare, nutrition, worker safety we need, and relief from monthly payments we cannot make. It speaks to the needs of frontline workers who are battling the pandemic and making it possible for the rest of us to shelter in place, said Ana Maria Archila, Co-Director of Center For Popular Democracy Action. “Bernie is uniquely courageous in demanding and lifting up the inclusion of immigrants, recognizing that low-income communities of color will bear the worst of this crisis. His plan provides urgent and direct relief to those most vulnerable — addressing the gaps left by previous relief bills and creating a foundation for long-lasting recovery.”
“Governments all around the world are keeping people employed and on payroll by covering salaries if businesses commit to not cutting wages or laying people off,” Justice Democrats Executive Director Alexandra Rojas said. “Senator Sanders is leading the fight to bring that common sense model to our country when so many workers and small business owners are confronting a complicated Rube Goldberg machine just to get a little relief.”
“This moment of crisis exemplifies the detrimental impact failing to account for the needs and extend protections to the most vulnerable has on the health of all within our communities, said Javier H. Valdés, Co-Director of Make the Road Action. “Only through a comprehensive response that covers the immediate and future healthcare, economic and maintenance needs of all members of our society can we prevent greater loss of life and a deeper economic downturn. Make the Road will continue to fight alongside Senator Sanders to ensure the next phase of COVID-19 legislative response includes these provisions and an eye towards justice.”
“The current government response has left behind some of our most vulnerable neighbors including the homeless, the undocumented, the unbanked, and those without internet connections, said Marisa Franco, Founder and Director of Mijente. “The priorities outlined by Senators Sanders for the next Coronavirus Stimulus Package are what our country needs to ensure everyone in our community can access the financial and medical support needed to withstand this crisis. We stand with Senator Sanders in demanding a $2,000 monthly emergency payment, emergency food, and Medicare to every person in our country regardless of their housing situation, immigration status or whether they have a bank account or internet connection.”
Absolutely none of the plans to mitigate against the twin crises posed by the coronavirus pandemic on Americans’ healthcare and the nation’s economy have come from Trump, but rather he has played catch up finally responding to the pleas and shaming from Congressional Democrats, who turned the trillion dollar slush fund for corporations into a $2.2 trillion relief bill, and from Governors and Mayors desperate for life-saving medical equipment and supplies. But his administration has proved woefully inadequate to implement. The $350 billion earmarked to rescue small businesses that is supposed to go into effect has no actual means; the billions in relief checks that are supposed to go to individuals are bogged down by a dysfunctional administration. While Trump has used the coronavirus pandemic to attack Democrats, and take advantage of the limited ability of Democratic candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders to campaign by turning briefings into rallies and extort praise and adulation from desperate government officials, Biden has sought to point to the contrast his leadership would offer.
Joe Biden released a “Make It Work” checklist to provide the federal government with specific recommendations surrounding the implementation and oversight of the CARES Act, the recent stimulus package passed by Congress to ensure the economic relief and recovery effort works for families, workers, and small businesses. (Recall Trump’s signing statement which basically obviated the oversight the Democrats put into the Act.) The checklist builds on Biden’s plan to combat coronavirus (COVID-19) released on March 12 and his emergency action plan for the economy released on March 26. This is from the Biden campaign –Karen Rubin, news-photos-features.com.
Implementation and Oversight of the CARES Act: The Biden “Make It Work” Checklist
1. Making Americans who lose their jobs financially whole by ensuring that they get their unemployment insurance on time and in full. The CARES Act provides for the equivalent of full wage replacement for average American wage-earners. With millions of Americans making claims for lost jobs in a single week – nearly five times the previous record – getting workers their wage replacement checks fast has never been more important. Let’s be clear: even with new funds from the CARES Act, if the White House does not do everything in its power to help all of our states swiftly implement these new unemployment (UI) benefits, states will be even more overwhelmed. Our states will need help with staffing capacity, technology solutions, training for new claims processors, and best practices from other jurisdictions. This must happen immediately – before the crush of UI claims becomes even more overwhelming. Americans desperate for relief to pay the rent and keep food on the tables for their children will judge states’ performance on the number of UI claims successfully processed, the number of Americans paid as quickly as possible, and how quickly they receive relief – beginning this week. Biden would:
Establish a UI delivery team to help states solve any implementation problems they face. He would authorize that team to provide funds beyond the $1 billion appropriated to states to add staffing and server capacity.
Apply a financial version of the Defense Production Act to ensure that banks that have contracts with states deliver unemployment benefit payments to laid-off workers do so in a timely manner, and that they offer prompt electronic payment options.
Issue clear guidance about the broadest possible eligibility and communicate that guidance effectively so that all Americans understand what benefits they are entitled to.
Make clear that gig workers can get partial benefits when they are still working if their compensation and hours have been significantly reduced.
Work with Congress to extend the provisions for the duration of the crisis. Four months is not enough to provide families the aid they need throughout this economic crisis.
2. Get direct cash relief as quickly as possible to as many Americans as possible. The CARES Act provides for $1,200 per person and $500 per child in cash relief for millions of working families. Biden would prioritize getting Americans the cash relief they are owed and making it easy to access the relief. The Trump administration is already failing at this by causing needless worry for millions of seniors and people with disabilities. Biden would do so by:
Delivering the payments electronically whenever possible and delivering pre-paid debit cards to those who don’t have bank accounts. Payments should not be delayed just so that President Trump can put his signature on a physical check.
Making payments automatic for millions who haven’t filed a tax return based on information the government already has– and streamlining filing for others. The Trump Administration has needlessly confused millions by first announcing that Social Security recipients and people with disabilities would have to file a tax return to receive their stimulus rebate, before reversing themselves. The reversal is welcome. The CARES Act clearly allows the Treasury Department to send cash relief payments automatically to millions of seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, and others without burdening them with new paperwork during a pandemic. Treasury can send these payments using information that the Social Security Administration, the Veterans Administration, and other agencies already possess to get payments to these people. From the start, Biden would have announced an automatic, clear, and simple process of getting stimulus payments to these individuals. And he would extend these same automatic payments to others, like veterans, who still would not get automatic payments under the Administration’s plan. For those who do need to file a new form, Biden would establish an immediate, streamlined cash relief application process to make sure the neediest Americans are being taken care of. There is no reason that most of these Americans cannot be paid within days of filing this paperwork with the right focus, the right process, and the right prioritization.
Expanding the CARES Act relief to dependents left out of the legislation. Democrats fought and won cash relief for most working families, but the legislation left out relief for dependents aged 17 and older, whether a high school student or an older relative living with a family. That is a huge hole in support for working families. As he pushes for relief to extend as long as is needed to pull us through this crisis, Biden would immediately ask Congress to correct this and give these families the support they deserve.
Preparing for additional payments. As the crisis continues, Biden would provide additional cash payments as necessary.
3. Keep as many people on payroll as possible by working with all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands to make maximum use of “work-sharing” and “short-time compensation” programs. The Obama-Biden administration expanded an innovative form of “employment insurance,” called “work-sharing” or “short-time compensation.” Under these programs, when a business keeps its workers on payroll – but with reduced hours – federally-backed insurance will compensate those workers to make up for their reduced hours. Expanding short-time compensation has never been more important than today, when keeping workers on payrolls is an urgent national economic priority. Before this crisis, more than 20 states didn’t have programs to allow for short-time compensation, and they were often underutilized even in the states that did. The CARES Act provides for additional federal financing to expand work-sharing. To make that financing work, Biden would:
Direct the Department of Labor to ensure these programs are offered in 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
Provide resources and guidance for states to create a simple application for small businesses, as well as larger businesses, to take advantage of work-sharing.
Direct the Department of Labor to issue guidance applying the $600 per week emergency boost in unemployment insurance under the CARES Act to work-sharing programs.
Work with Congress to allow, on an emergency basis, work-sharing programs to pay benefits when hours are reduced dramatically, but employees are still working part-time.
4. Take the necessary steps to ensure that all small businesses can access relief fast, not just those with the right connections. The CARES Act includes a small business program to provide loans and funds to help small businesses survive this storm and keep their workers on their payroll. It also provides the same relief to small nonprofits, many of whom are needed more than ever in a national crisis. However, there is no assurance that all eligible small businesses will receive support — and the program relies on private banks’ willingness and ability to swiftly provide these government-backed loans. An approach that simply assumes major banks will do this in a fair, efficient, and comprehensive way is likely to result in too few loans being made, too slowly, and mostly to larger and more well-resourced businesses with established relationships and connections. To get loans out quickly to the millions of qualifying Main Street small businesses that need relief — especially in rural and urban communities and those owned by women and minorities — we need a network of financial institutions committed to and capable of efficiently extending credit to every small business and nonprofit in need of support. The rules must be clear and simple to give every eligible small business the confidence that relief is coming, and that they can plan for the future with that relief in mind. There are millions of struggling businesses that do not have time to wait. Success cannot be judged by incremental progress or splashy announcements – we need an effort to direct hundreds of thousands of loans to businesses, beginning this week. For Biden, this would be designated as a vital national priority. Immediately, he would:
Apply a financial version of the Defense Production Act, to make all banks prioritize the swift processing of small business loans, putting them at the front of the line as a national priority. Banks would have to process loan applications within a few working days from all small businesses seeking relief, including the mom-and-pop shops that need help the most and are frequently pushed to the back of the line and those in low-income and traditionally underbanked geographies.
Cut red tape: immediately use the authority in the CARES Act to set simple and clear eligibility criteria; a hyper-streamlined application process; and an expedited process for the smallest of businesses who are most likely to be left out.
Explore creative solutions like working with payroll processing companies to speed up disbursement, including a one-click process for accessing funds.
Produce a weekly dashboard to show which small businesses are accessing loans – to make sure that the program isn’t leaving out communities, minority- and women-owned businesses, or the smallest businesses – and whether they are maintaining payroll.
Make sure that the small business loan program is connected with the work-sharing strategy so that these initiatives are providing the maximum support towards keeping workers on payroll.
Halt evictions and foreclosures of small businesses, and work to provide forbearance on rent and mortgages to provide a lifeline as loans are being processed
Immediately reengage Congress to allow for small business loans that can keep workers on the payroll for far longer than eight weeks.
Immediately seek bipartisan agreement that additional resources will be available as needed to cover loans to eligible small businesses and nonprofits, so that there is not a race to exhaust the $350 billion that leaves some of the most deserving family and smaller-businesses out in the cold because they were not as well-connected or served well by banks.
5. Set clear rules on any industry support – they must help workers and communities, not bail out shareholders or financial industry creditors. The CARES Act gives the Treasury Secretary authority to provide financial assistance directly to large companies. While Democrats secured important protections against stock buybacks and executive compensation, Biden would set a higher bar to make sure that any industry bailout package helps workers and communities where the company operates – not the existing shareholders or creditors of some of the largest companies in the country. He would require that, in return for any financial assistance, large companies accept further conditions along the lines outlined by Senators Brown and Warren, including that they:
Demonstrate they are prepared to actively participate in the public health effort, including production, distribution, and logistics capacity.
Agree to maintain payrolls at reasonable levels, for both full-time employees and contractors.
Allow taxpayers to share in the upside of any recovery, as was practiced during the last downturn, while ensuring existing shareholders and creditors share in any losses.
Agree to worker representation on their Board of Directors.
Commit to not transfer jobs out of the United States.
6. Establish strong oversight and transparency to police abuse and misappropriation by the Administration and the corporations who receive funds. In addition to enforcing strict conditions, Biden would ensure there are no sweetheart deals, no special favors, and no slush fund, and that corporations follow through on their hard commitments. This is a major concern given the track record of the Trump administration. In the CARES Act, Congress established a Special Inspector General to police the $500 billion in funding for large corporations and to make sure it is going to the right places for the right reasons. But last week, Trump’s White House announced that it intends to restrict the work of the Special Inspector General, in defiance of the bipartisan legislation and the will of the American people to have strong transparency and oversight. Biden would provide full freedom to the Special Inspector General to conduct oversight, meet regularly with him or her, and ensure he or she had all the resources required for effective oversight. That is what he did with the Inspector General under the Recovery Act, and the result was less than 0.2% fraud .
7. Move much-needed funds for public health and emergency medical needs to hospitals, and local, state, and tribal governments. The CARES Act includes critical provisions to meet the needs of this public health emergency, including funding for cash-strapped hospitals. Biden would focus on getting those funds out the door, with a special focus on rural hospitals that were already financially constrained before COVID-19. He would also provide additional reimbursement plus-ups for Medicare providers who are risking their lives to treat patients. Finally, Biden would ensure that hospitals are not cutting the pay of doctors and nurses during this emergency, as some reports have indicated. The allocation of federal dollars should be conditioned on an explicit commitment to not cut back on wages or benefits of hospital-based health care workers. As funds are disbursed, Biden would work to ensure the administration is tracking what else hospitals need so that we can ensure that we incorporate that into future legislation and budgets.
8. Ensure equitable allocation of recovery funds. There is a growing body of evidence that recovery funding after crises actually widens pre-existing racial disparities. For example, researchers at Rice University and the University of Pittsburgh found that “whites accumulate more wealth after natural disasters while residents of color accumulate less.” Federal leadership will be required to ensure that recovery from the pandemic helps everyone hurt in the crisis in a fair and equitable way, with a special focus on populations that have historically been left out or left behind. Jurisdictions that receive funding should be required to develop and report on metrics for addressing potential racial disparities, and the SBA and Treasury should similarly track lending to ensure that minority business owners – who have traditionally faced unequal access to credit and capital – are not treated unfairly. And, the Trump Administration should suspend their public charge rule. Allowing immigration officials to make an individual’s ability to receive a visa or gain permanent residency contingent on their use of government services such as SNAP benefits or Medicaid, their household income, and other discriminatory criteria not only undermines America’s character as land of opportunity that is open and welcoming to all, but also may stop immigrants from getting help during this pandemic and pose broader issues for public health.
9. Establish a CARES Act Implementation Office with responsibility for ensuring (a) people understand and can effectively access all the relief to which they are entitled; and (b) states have all the capacities they need to get the money out as fast as possible. The CARES Act is hundreds of pages long. Big businesses have armies of lawyers to help them figure it out. But many small businesses and families won’t know what’s available to them like: who qualifies for mortgage forbearance? What do small businesses need to qualify not just for loans but for loan forgiveness? Biden would establish a team that would put together a plain-language, comprehensive guide to the benefits in the bill and who they are meant for — and a strategy to communicate to the American people. The Office would set up both online- and telephone-based customer service to answer questions. It would work with community leaders across the country who are on the front lines of this crisis. And, Biden would dedicate staff to every single state as action officers to assist states in accessing the CARES Act funds and disbursing them efficiently.
10. Start working on the Fourth Package now. We already know that more will have to be done; potentially a massive amount more. Biden wouldn’t wait. He would bring together the leaders of Congress to design a fourth package that accomplishes three things: (a) fixes things that aren’t working in CARES Act implementation and fills in gaps that become apparent; (b) takes care of the people the CARES Act left out; and (c) does whatever it takes, spends whatever it takes, to help the American people and the American economy emerge from the other side of this stronger. He would also make sure the new package automatically extends relief as long as is needed to support families and communities through this crisis. In addition to provisions mentioned above, Biden would ask Congress to include in new legislation:
Any further resources and authority required to break down barriers to implementation, whether on small business, or unemployment insurance, or short-time compensation.
Additional provisions to meet needs not fully covered in the CARES Act, including:
Additional funds for states. As this crisis unfolds, states are going to get crushed under the weight of falling revenues combined with far higher emergency financial burdens. Cops and firefighters and teachers are going to be at risk of losing pay. Biden would make sure the federal government provides the relief that communities on the front lines need to put their full resources behind the public health response without forcing painful and damaging cuts to public services, education, and public safety, and to deal with extraordinary economic circumstances like helping with missed rent and other payments for those facing significant hardship.
Cost-free treatment for COVID-19, regardless of immigration status.
Student debt forgiveness through the duration of the crisis, with a minimum of $10,000.
Boosts to Social Security by $200 per month for seniors and persons with disabilities.
Paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave for every worker, and making these benefits permanent.
An increase in SNAP benefits by 15 percent during the deepening recession, and temporarily provide low-income families with about $100 per month in extra nutritional support.
A rent freeze for qualifying individuals for the duration of the crisis
A halt to foreclosures and evictions as people get on their feet.
Key long-term investments, stronger public health systems, and automatic stabilizers so that in future crises the social safety net is there for Americans who need it.
Vice President Joe Biden is directly challenging Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic accelerating across the United States and world that has produced twin crises in healthcare and the economy, in the form of questions that should be posed at the White House briefings that have become campaign rallies for Trump’s election. Instead of a “whole of government” marshaling of forces to combat the virus, Trump’s “whole of government” is one big political enterprise, while Trump uses that time at the bully pulpit to attack Democrats, particularly Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and call the impeachment yet another “hoax” instead of organizing his administration to make sure all the states and cities have the life-saving equipment and staff needed to save lives, that the nation unites together to curtail social contact, and to make sure businesses and families to have the financial resources necessary to make it through. Instead, Trump has denied re-opening enrollment to Obamacare for those who don’t have health insurance, and his administration has no clue how to actually implement the $2.2 trillion in “relief” money to families and businesses. This is from the Biden campaign: –Karen Rubin, news-photos-features.com.
As Trump Attempts to Spin Away His Historic Failure to Combat the Coronavirus, Here Are Questions He Needs to Answer at Today’s Press Conference
1. Why are you refusing to allow Americans who desperately need health insurance in the middle of a pandemic access to the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace?
This is yet another step in Trump’s ideological battle against the ACA — no matter the cost to the health care of Americans — which has seen his Administration pursue efforts that would kick tens of millions of Americans off their coverage and roll back protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions
About 20 million Americans have received health insurance through the ACA, and it’s given better care and peace of mind to countless others — that’s why Vice President Biden sent a letter to President Trump and Republican leaders demanding that they drop their efforts to jeopardize Americans’ health care.
2. Why do you continue to mislead Americans about your failure to adequately develop and deploy an effective coronavirus test — a failure that allowed the virus to spread unchecked and explode across our country?
In a call with governors on Monday, according to the New York Times, Trump continued to shrug off the coronavirus testing crisis that exploded on his watch, claiming that “I haven’t heard about testing being a problem” and that he hasn’t “heard about testing in weeks” — even though countless Americans are still unable to be tested for the coronavirus, fatally undercutting our response to this crisis?
Trump’s lie was so out of step with reality that it prompted a rebuke from fellow Republicans, with Maryland Governor Larry Hogan saying yesterday that Trump’s claim was “just not true” and that “no state has enough testing” and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine adding that “we know Ohio hasn’t had as much testing as we would have liked. We had to ration the testing.”
Similarly, Trump’s assertion in a Monday interview with Fox New that testing failures were the fault of the Obama-Biden administration was demolished by PolitiFact yesterday, which rated Trump’s claim “Pants on Fire” false, and said that that his attack “flies in the face of logic.”
Trump’s baseless claims come just days after a bombshell report by the Times showed how his failure to quickly deploy an accurate coronavirus test resulted in a “lost month” that left America blind as it tried to combat the virus’ spread, and that his administration “squandered [America’s] best chance of containing the virus’s spread.”
3. With new polls showing that Americans don’t approve of your handling of the coronavirus crisis, do you regret not acting sooner to halt the virus’ spread, like other countries did, instead of downplaying its threat for months?
Two new polls today show growing numbers of Americans disapprove of Trump’s slow and erratic response to the coronavirus, which has left the United States leading the world in confirmed cases.
A POLITICO/Morning Consult survey found that by a seven point margin, Americans don’t think the administration is doing enough to combat the coronavirus. Similarly, an Associated Press poll also out today shows that only 44% of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the pandemic and only 38% approve of the federal government’s response — even as people rally in support of how their state and local officials have handled the crisis.
4. GOP State Attorneys General confirmed Monday that they will continue their lawsuit to roll back the Affordable Care Act and kick millions of Americans off their health insurance in the midst of a pandemic. Will you, as Vice President Biden has called for, withdraw your support for this effort?
The Daily Beast confirmed on Monday that at least five Republican state Attorneys General plan to continue their lawsuit to overturn the ACA — threatening the health care of millions of Americans in the middle of a pandemic.
Ten years ago, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, expanding access to quality, affordable health care for millions of Americans. But instead of standing up for Americans’ health care, Donald Trump continues to lead fellow Republicans in efforts to do away with the law and the critical protections it put in place.
5. Why did your administration ignore existing Obama-Biden Administration plans to combat pandemics and why did you take actions that reduced our preparedness for challenges like the coronavirus?
POLITICO reports that the Trump administration tossed out an existing “pandemic playbook” from the National Security Council that laid out, in detail, steps to take in the face of a public health emergency like this.
As a result, key problems that the playbook planned for — like the current logistical challenges plaguing our health care system — went unaddressed, slowing down our response.
This is only one in a string of missteps by the Trump administration that left the United States unprepared and vulnerable to a future pandemic. Key positions across the government have been left unfilled, or occupied by unqualified political cronies. Similarly, CDC staff in China was slashed on Trump’s watch, removing important eyes and ears on the ground that could have given us critical early notice of the coronavirus’ spread.
6. With another round of record unemployment claims showing the economic pain the coronavirus is putting the American people through, do you regret the weeks you spent downplaying the threat it posed and do you agree with your Treasury Secretary who said last week that unemployment numbers are “not relevant”?
With 6.6 million Americans filing for unemployment benefits last week, the explosive economic toll of the coronavirus continues to grow.
For months, Trump ignoredand downplayed the looming threat of the coronavirus and failed to take the necessary steps to prepare us — even as other countries quickly acted. Now, America has more coronavirus cases than any other country in the world and our economy continues to suffer body blows.
Throughout, Trump’s administration has shown a cavalier indifference to the unimaginable economic toll of the coronavirus has had on the American workers, with Secretary Mnuchin claiming that last week’s massive unemployment figures were “not relevant” — even as families across the country are struggling to make ends meet.
7. Why are you refusing to allow Americans who desperately need health insurance in the middle of a pandemic access to the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace?
This is yet another step in Trump’s ideological battle against the ACA — no matter the cost to the health of Amercans — which has seen his Administration pursue efforts that would kick tens of millions of Americans off their coverage and roll back protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions
About 20 million Americans have received health insurance through the ACA, and it’s given better care and peace of mind to countless others — that’s why Vice President Biden sent a letter to President Trump and Republican leaders demanding that they drop their efforts to jeopardize Americans’ health care.
8.A new report today shows that the U.S. Army was projecting as early as the beginning of February that 150,000 Americans could be killed by the coronavirus. So why did you continue to waste precious weeks downplaying the threat it posed?
A shocking report today by the Daily Beast shows that as early as February 3, the U.S. Army had internal projections showing that upwards of 150,000 Americans could die as a result of the coronavirus that was then spreading rapidly around the globe.
Instead of joining other countries around the world in taking quick action to prepare for the virus, Trump dismissed and downplayed its threat, telling a campaign rally a week later that “looks like by April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away.”
Vice President Biden, in contrast, was sounding the alarm — writing a January 27 op-ed in USA Today about the threat it posed and the steps that should be taken, with Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine noting yesterday that Joe Biden “very much did see the coronavirus disaster coming.”
9. With new polls showing that Americans don’t approve of your handling of the coronavirus crisis, do you regret not acting sooner to halt the virus’ spread?
Two new polls released yesterday show growing numbers of Americans disapprove of Trump’s slow and erratic response to the coronavirus, which has left the United States leading the world in confirmed cases.
A POLITICO/Morning Consult survey found that by a seven point margin, Americans don’t think the administration is doing enough to combat the coronavirus. Similarly, an Associated Press poll also out today shows that only 44% of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the pandemic and only 38% approve of the federal government’s response — even as people rally in support of how their state and local officials have handled the crisis.
10. Why do you continue to mislead Americans about your failure to adequately develop and deploy an effective coronavirus test — a failure that allowed the virus to spread unchecked and explode across our country?
In a call with governors on Monday, according to the New York Times, Trump continued to shrug off the coronavirus testing crisis that exploded on his watch, claiming that “I haven’t heard about testing being a problem” and that he hasn’t “heard about testing in weeks” — even though countless Americans are still unable to be tested for the coronavirus, fatally undercutting our response to this crisis?
Trump’s lie was so out of step with reality that it prompted a rebuke from fellow Republicans, with Maryland Governor Larry Hogan saying Tuesday that Trump’s claim was “just not true” and that “no state has enough testing” and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine adding that “we know Ohio hasn’t had as much testing as we would have liked. We had to ration the testing.”
Similarly, Trump’s assertion in a Monday interview with Fox New that testing failures were the fault of the Obama-Biden administration was demolished by PolitiFact yesterday, which rated Trump’s claim “Pants on Fire” false, and said that that his attack “flies in the face of logic.”
Trump’s baseless claims come just days after a bombshell report by the Times showed how his failure to quickly deploy an accurate coronavirus test resulted in a “lost month” that left America blind as it tried to combat the virus’ spread, and that his administration “squandered [America’s] best chance of containing the virus’s spread.