Category Archives: Government Accountability

NYS Governor Cuomo Contrasts Ugly Partisanship of Federal Politicians with Compassion Shown by Americans

“This is now turning into a political brawl on state and local funding,” New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “More and more, some of the elected officials in Washington are saying they’re against it. They’re lead by Senator Mitch McConnell, who leads the Senate, who makes it blatantly political. No blue state bailout. No blue state bailout. What is he trying to say? The states that have coronavirus are Democratic states and he’s a Republican, so he doesn’t want to help the Democratic states.” But it is New York that has been bailing out red states including Kentucky and Florida for years. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo hit back at Republican lawmakers’ naked partisanship in coronavirus pandemic – specifically, the suggestion that the federal government abandon states suffering under the health and  economic hardships, and after swiftly passing some $4 trillion in debt in order to fund Corporate America, telling states and localities to go bankrupt, rather than provide necessary funding.

“This is now turning into a political brawl on state and local funding,” Cuomo said during the Wednesday, April 29 press briefing. “More and more, some of the elected officials in Washington are saying they’re against it. They’re lead by Senator Mitch McConnell, who leads the Senate, who makes it blatantly political. No blue state bailout. No blue state bailout. What is he trying to say? The states that have coronavirus are Democratic states and he’s a Republican, so he doesn’t want to help the Democratic states.

“He went so far as to say, well he’d be in favor of the states going bankrupt. First, states have never gone bankrupt. States can’t go bankrupt. There are serious Constitutional questions about whether or not a state can declare bankruptcy and you need a federal law that would allow the states to declare bankruptcy even if you got around the Constitutional question on bankruptcy. If he believes that, if it wasn’t just political rhetoric and personal vitriol, then pass a law that allows states to declare bankruptcy. He would have to do that. I dare him to do that and get that bill signed by the President.

“To make it partisan is what is most disturbing and you can see they’re now rallying the partisan troops. Senator Scott from Florida says we’re supposed to bail them out. We versus them. We’re supposed to bail them out. It’s we and it’s them. That’s not right. Who is we and who is them? Who is we? And who is them? Them, the people who had coronavirus. They are the ones who had the coronavirus. We, without the virus, are supposed to bail out those people who have the virus. what an ugly sentiment.

“First of all, on the facts, it’s not even close to right and why they would even want to go down this road when the facts damn everything they’re saying. And there are still facts. I know it’s hard to communicate facts in this environment. I know a lot of the filters don’t communicate facts. They all communicate spin now. Everybody has their own spin. But there are still facts that are not political theater, right? New York State bails them out every year. They’re not bailing us out. We bail them out every year. New York State pays $29 billion into that federal pot, $29 billion more every year that we never get back. Our state contribution into the federal pot, the United States of America pot, every year we put in $29 billion more than we take out. On the other hand, they take out every year $37 billion more than they pay to the federal government. Senator Mitch McConnell, you are bailing out New York, when every year you take out more from the kitty, the federal pot, $37 billion more than you put in? Who is bailing out whom?

“Senator Scott, Florida, you’re going to bail us out? You take out $30 billion more every year than you pay in. How dare they? How dare they when those are the facts? How long are you going to play the American people and assume they’re stupid? They are not and they can add and they know facts. And I don’t care what the news media tries to do to distort these facts. They are numbers, and they are facts, and they can’t be distorted, and this is every year.

“Look, what this is really about, it’s the Washington double speak. You look at the bills that they want to pass and who they want to help. They want to fund the hotels, the restaurants, the airlines, the big corporations. That’s who they want to fund. Who do state and local governments fund? State and local governments fund police, firefighters, nurses, school teachers, food banks. That’s who I want to fund and that’s what it means to fund a state and local government. And that’s the choice they’re making. Everybody applauds the health care workers. Jets fly over in tribute to the health care workers. That’s all nice. Saying thank you is nice. How about actually rewarding them and making their life easier? How about giving them hazard pay? How about helping with their childcare? How about helping families who can’t feed their kids right now? How about helping the police, and helping the firefighters, and all the people who are out there right now killing themselves to make life easier for us?

“That’s what this is really about. They want to fund corporate America. That’s who puts money in their pockets. And I say let’s fund working Americans. That’s the choice. Bail out us, them. No, it’s just theater. It’s just smoke and mirrors to avoid the American people seeing the reality, which is whose pocket they want to put money in, versus whose pocket state and local governments want to fund.

“The reason that it’s so disturbing to me, I’m not surprised by anything in politics. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly for many, many years. I was in Washington for eight years. I know what it’s like. But if there was ever a time that one could reasonably believe you could put aside partisan politics. If there was ever going to be a moment where we could say, you know what, let’s stop just for one moment the partisanship, the ugliness, the anger, the deception. Let’s just stop for one moment. If there was going to be one moment to hit the pause button, the moment would be now. You have human suffering. You have people dying. You can’t stop the politics even in this moment? Even in this moment when people are dying all across the country, you still want to play your politics? That’s what this is about, and that’s why it is so disturbing on a fundamental level. Politics, I’m getting up and I’m reading that death toll number. I’m speaking to the widows and the brothers and the sisters and the children of people who died, and then we’re going to play politics with funding that’s necessary to save people’s lives? When does it stop?

“And the disconnect is between the political leadership and the people, because the American people, it’s not them. They are principled, they are kind, they are better than what they are getting. The American instinct is to help each other in crisis. The American instinct is to be good neighbors. The American instinct is the farmer who sent me the one mask to help a New Yorker when he only had five masks and a wife with one lung and underlying illness. And he sends one of his five masks to New York. Think about that generosity, that charity, that spirit. That’s America. Why? Because we’re good neighbors, because we care about one another.

“America was when I said we need help in our emergency rooms and hospitals and 95,000 nurses and doctors from across the nation said we will come to New York to help. We’ll come into the emergency room. We’ll come into the hospital. I understand it’s COVID I will leave my family, and I will come to help yours. That’s America. That’s who we are and that’s who we have shown ourselves to be in the middle of this crisis. The crisis brings out the best and the worst, yes. And the best of America is beautiful and that’s what we’ve seen. Because, yes, we are tough. Yes, we are smart. Yes, we are disciplined. Yes, we are united. Yes, we’re loving, loving, because we are Americans. And that’s who we are and how we are as Americans. And I just hope the political leadership of this nation understands how good we are as a people.

“And the textbook says politicians lead, elected officials lead. No, sometimes the people lead and the politicians follow, and that’s where we are today. Follow the American people. Look at what they’re doing. Look at how they’re reacting. And politicians, try to be half as good as the American people. I want to show you a self-portrait that was done by American people. This is a self-portrait of America, okay? That’s a self-portrait of America,” Cuomo said opening a curtain that revealed a collage of protective face masks.

The coronavirus pandemic has shown the best and the worst of America. Amid Republican lawmakers using partisanship to increase the suffering of Blue States like New York, with more COVID-19 cases than any country in the world, Governor Cuomo displays the protective masks that Americans from across the nation have sent the state; some 95,000 volunteered to be health workers © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“We received thousands of masks from all across America, unsolicited, in the mail, homemade, creative, personal, with beautiful notes from all across the country, literally. Just saying, thinking about you, ‘We care, we love you, we want to help.’ And this is just people’s way of saying we care. And we want to help. This is what this country is about. And this is what Americans are about. A little bit more of this and a little bit less of the partisanship and the ugliness, and this country will be a better place.”

Meanwhile, Cuomo gave specific detail for a phased reopening of the economy, starting in regions of the state which are comparatively unscathed, compared to downstate – New York City, Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island, Rockland and Westchester counties north of the city, where the number of COVID-19 cases exceeds every other nation.

He said that the “spigot” to reopen the state’s economy would be based on data, not politics or emotion – and would depend on area hospitals having 30 percent capacity available after re-starting elective surgery, and the rate of transmission staying below 1:1 (one person infecting one other person).

Testing is being ramped up from 20,000 a day to 30,000, to a goal of 40,000.

Using this criteria, 35 counties have been approved to resume elective outpatient treatments – necessary to help hospitals’ finances. The Governor previously announced that the state will allow elective outpatient treatments to resume in counties and hospitals without significant risk of COVID-19 surge in the near term. The counties now eligible are: Allegany, Broome, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chenango, Delaware, Dutchess, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Genesee, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Livingston, Madison, Monroe, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Ontario, Orleans, Oswego, Putnam, Saratoga, Schoharie, Schuyler, St. Lawrence, Steuben, Sullivan, Tompkins, Ulster, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates.

“We have made tremendous progress to stop the spread of this infection, but we are not out of the woods yet and we need to proceed with caution as we begin our re-opening plan,” Governor Cuomo said.”We know testing is key to re-opening New York – it is the indicator that will show if we are keeping the infection rate down throughout the re-opening process. We have been more aggressive than any state or nation in the world on testing and we are now halfway to our goal of doubling our testing capacity from 20,000 per day to 40,000 per day, but we still have more work to do.”

Cuomo provided the specific 12-point guidelines for the phased plan to re-open New York on a regional basis. Each region of the state – Capital Region, Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mid-Hudson Valley, Mohawk Valley, New York City, North Country, Long Island, Southern Tier and Western New York – must follow these guidelines as part of the re-opening plan.

  1. CDC Guidelines: Based on CDC recommendations, once a region experiences a 14-day decline in the hospitalization rate they may begin a phased re-opening.
  2. Industries: Businesses in each region will re-open in phases. Phase one will include opening construction and manufacturing functions with low risk. Phase two will open certain industries based on priority and risk level. Businesses considered “more essential” with inherent low risks of infection in the workplace and to customers will be prioritized, followed by other businesses considered “less essential” or those that present a higher risk of infection spread. Regions must not open attractions or businesses that would draw a large number of visitors from outside the local area.
  3. Business Precautions: Each business and industry must have a plan to protect employees and consumers, make the physical work space safer and implement processes that lower risk of infection in the business.
  4. Building Health Care Capacity: To maintain the phased re-opening plan, each region must have at least 30 percent of hospital beds and ICU beds available after elective surgeries resume.
  5. Testing Regimen: Regions must implement a testing regimen that prioritizes symptomatic persons and individuals who came into contact with a known COVID-positive person, and conducts frequent tests of frontline and essential workers. Regions must maintain an appropriate number of testing sites to accommodate its population and must fully advertise where and how people can get tested. The region must also use the collected data to track and trace the spread of the virus.
  6. Tracing System: There must be at least 30 contact tracers for every 100,000 people. The region must also monitor the regional infection rate throughout the re-opening plan.
  7. Isolation Facilities: Regions must present plans to have rooms available for people who test positive for COVID-19 and who cannot self-isolate.
  8. Regional Coordination: Regions must coordinate the re-opening of schools, transportation systems, testing and tracing with other surrounding regions.
  9. Re-imagining Tele-Medicine
  10. Re-imagining Tele-Education
  11. Regional Control Rooms: Each region must appoint an oversight institution as its control room to monitor regional indicators during the phased re-opening, including hospital capacity, rate of infection, PPE burn rate and businesses.
  12. Protect and Respect Essential Workers: Regions must continue to ensure protections are in place for essential workers.

“Our reopening is different,” Cuomo said. “We don’t have a conceptual plan. We don’t have an abstract plan because there is no conceptual plan, there is no abstract plan. You have to have a plan that is based on facts, based on specifics. This is not about politics, this is not about spin, this is not about emotion. There are no conspiracy theories at work here. We outlined a 12-step plan that is factual, that is based on numbers, based on data and then it has a numerical circuit breaker that is not subject to personal emotion or desire, but just checks and monitors that infection rate that we just saw in Germany and is watching for those increases.”

Governor Cuomo also announced the creation of the New York Forward Re-Opening Advisory Board to help guide the state’s re-opening strategy. The advisory board will be chaired by Former Secretaries to the Governor Steve Cohen and Bill Mulrow and includes over 100 business, community and civic leaders from industries across the state. A list of the members of the advisory board is available here.

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Trump Doesn’t CARES: Signing Statement to $2.2 Trillion “Relief” Bill Negates All Congressional Controls, Oversight (or ‘How to Steal $2 Trillion’)

Trump’s signing statement to the $2.2 trillion “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” or the “CARES” Act relief bill – the largest relief bill ever enacted – negates all the controls and oversight provisions that the Congress imposed– the very definition of “Crisis Capitalism” that Naomi Klein documents and warned of.

Trump’s signing statement to the $2.2 trillion “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” or the “CARES” Act relief bill, negates all controls, oversight that the Congress imposed, recognizing Trump’s penchant for misappropriating funds (border wall, Ukraine military aid), using taxpayer money to reward and buy friends or punish and hurt perceived enemies – it is the very definition of “crisis capitalism” that Naomi Klein describes and warned of. This is the statement issued by the White House –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

    Today, I have signed into law H.R. 748, the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” or the “CARES” Act (the “Act”).  The Act makes emergency supplemental appropriations and other changes to law to help the Nation respond to the coronavirus outbreak.  I note, however, that the Act includes several provisions that raise constitutional concerns.
 
    Section 15010(c)(3)(B) of Division B of the Act purports to require the Chairperson of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency to consult with members of the Congress regarding the selection of the Executive Director and Deputy Executive Director for the newly formed Pandemic Response Accountability Committee.  The Committee is an executive branch entity charged with conducting and coordinating oversight of the Federal Government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.  I anticipate that the Chairperson will be able to consult with members of the Congress with respect to these hiring decisions and will welcome their input.  But a requirement to consult with the Congress regarding executive decision-making, including with respect to the President’s Article II authority to oversee executive branch operations, violates the separation of powers by intruding upon the President’s power and duty to supervise the staffing of the executive branch under Article II, section 1 (vesting the President with the “executive Power”) and Article II, section 3 (instructing the President to “take Care” that the laws are faithfully executed).  Accordingly, my Administration will treat this provision as hortatory but not mandatory. 
 
    Section 4018 of Division A of the Act establishes a new Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery (SIGPR) within the Department of the Treasury to manage audits and investigations of loans and investments made by the Secretary of the Treasury under the Act.  Section 4018(e)(4)(B) of the Act authorizes the SIGPR to request information from other government agencies and requires the SIGPR to report to the Congress “without delay” any refusal of such a request that “in the judgment of the Special Inspector General” is unreasonable.  I do not understand, and my Administration will not treat, this provision as permitting the SIGPR to issue reports to the Congress without the presidential supervision required by the Take Care Clause, Article II, section 3.
 
    Certain other provisions (such as sections 20001, 21007, and 21010 of Division B of the Act) purport to condition the authority of officers to spend or reallocate funds upon consultation with, or the approval of, one or more congressional committees.  These provisions are impermissible forms of congressional aggrandizement with respect to the execution of the laws.  The Congress may affect the execution of the laws only by enacting a new statute in accordance with the requirements of bicameralism and presentment prescribed in Article I, section 7.  My Administration will make appropriate efforts to notify the relevant committees before taking the specified actions and will accord the recommendations of such committees all appropriate and serious consideration, but it will not treat spending decisions as dependent on prior consultation with or the approval of congressional committees.
 
    Finally, several provisions (such as sections 3511(d)(4) and 3862 (creating section 744N(d)(1) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act) of Division A of the Act) purport to require recommendations regarding legislation to the Congress.  Because Article II, section 3 gives the President the authority to recommend only “such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient,” my Administration will continue the practice of treating provisions like these as advisory and non-binding.
 

 
                              DONALD J. TRUMP
 

 
 
THE WHITE HOUSE,
    March 27, 2020.
  

In Oval Office Speech, Trump Fails to Offer Solutions to Stem Healthcare Crisis Looming With Coronavirus Pandemic or Calm Economic Fears

Trump offers his “historic actions” to address the coronavirus pandemic: payroll tax cut, tax deferral, travel ban from Europe (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.
Trump, in an address to the nation from the  Oval Office, tried to calm fears and most importantly (for him) calm the financial markets after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic and chided nations for underplaying the crisis. Trump spent most of the time self-congratulating himself, calling the crisis “unprecedented” (it’s not), and his actions “historic” (hardly). Trump said nothing about making the health care infrastructure work to save Americans from suffering and needless dying, or for bolstering finances for people who have lost their means of earning money, paying bills, caring for children. His solution, to unilaterally ban travel from Europe (not UK) is absurd. Still no idea how many Americans harbor the infection. He used words like “unprecedented” when this is hardly unprecedented (Spanish flu, Swine flu, Ebola, and months of seeing what happened in China, South Korea, Italy). He kept saying that America will get by because we are the strongest, smartest, best nation that ever existed. Trump’s solution is medieval: pull up the drawbridge, build a wall against foreign invasion. Balderdash. And by the way, YOU DIDN’T BUILD THAT: the strong economy was bequeathed by Obama and other predecessors that Trump is frittering away with $1 trillion budget deficits despite (as Trump constantly claims) a historic, strong economy. And what does strong military have to do with coronavirus pandemic? The amount of back-slapping Trump does to himself (“unprecedented steps” which are hardly unprecedented or even dramatic or adequate or on target for the health crisis at hand), and his sychophants, even the “experts” have had to lather praise is disgusting. As for abandoning the partisanship, he means “adore me, go along with whatever I say.” Immediately after, he attacked Nancy Pelosi and Democrats. Here s the speech annotated – Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT TRUMP
IN ADDRESS TO THE NATION
 
Oval Office
   
9:02 P.M. EDT
 
THE PRESIDENT:  My fellow Americans: Tonight, I want to speak with you about our nation’s unprecedented response to the coronavirus outbreak that started in China and is now spreading throughout the world.
 
Today, the World Health Organization officially announced that this is a global pandemic.

We have been in frequent contact with our allies, and we are marshalling the full power of the federal government and the private sector to protect the American people.

[And yet the European Union was blindsided by Trump’s sudden ban on travel from Europe but not the UK].
 
This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history.  I am confident that by counting and continuing to take these tough measures, we will significantly reduce the threat to our citizens, and we will ultimately and expeditiously defeat this virus.
 
From the beginning of time, nations and people have faced unforeseen challenges, including large-scale and very dangerous health threats.  This is the way it always was and always will be.  It only matters how you respond, and we are responding with great speed and professionalism.

[Hardly ‘unforeseen’ when the outbreak began in December in China and his first response came in March after pooh-poohing.]

Our team is the best anywhere in the world.  At the very start of the outbreak, we instituted sweeping travel restrictions on China and put in place the first federally mandated quarantine in over 50 years.  We declared a public health emergency and issued the highest level of travel warning on other countries as the virus spread its horrible infection. 
 
And taking early intense action, we have seen dramatically fewer cases of the virus in the United States than are now present in Europe. 

  [Except you really don’t know how many Americans are harboring the coronavirus because there hasn’t been adequate testing. And back in January, when Seattle doctor suspected coronavirus, federal agencies refused allowing testing, continued to reject the test kits from W.H.O. and relied on faulty, inadequate tests of its own.]

The European Union failed to take the same precautions and restrict travel from China and other hotspots.  As a result, a large number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travelers from Europe. 

[That is one of Trump’s ‘blame others’ ‘blame them’ ‘blame Europe’ out of his ass comments. He doesn’t know how the infection came here or where it came from. Those cruise goers didn’t come from Europe.]
 
After consulting with our top government health professionals, I have decided to take several strong but necessary actions to protect the health and wellbeing of all Americans.
 
To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days.  The new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight.  These restrictions will be adjusted subject to conditions on the ground.
 
There will be exemptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings, and these prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo, but various other things as we get approval.  Anything coming from Europe to the United States is what we are discussing.  These restrictions will also not apply to the United Kingdom.
 
At the same time, we are monitoring the situation in China and in South Korea.  And, as their situation improves, we will reevaluate the restrictions and warnings that are currently in place for a possible early opening.

  [There is no travel ban on South Korea.]

Earlier this week, I met with the leaders of health insurance industry who have agreed to waive all copayments for coronavirus treatments, extend insurance coverage to these treatments, and to prevent surprise medical billing. 
 
We are cutting massive amounts of red tape to make antiviral therapies available in record time.  These treatments will significantly reduce the impact and reach of the virus.

[Treatment still not likely to be available for a year.]
 
Additionally, last week, I signed into law an $8.3 billion funding bill to help CDC and other government agencies fight the virus and support vaccines, treatments, and distribution of medical supplies.  Testing and testing capabilities are expanding rapidly, day by day.  We are moving very quickly.

[Who will get that money and supplies?  Will Trump steer to “loyal” states and communities like Texas and Florida, and away from places like New York, California, Massachusetts, just as he did with Ukraine’s military aid, George w. Bush did with anti-terror funding after 9/11 and Chris Christie did by shutting down the George Washington bridge to punish Democratic mayors who refused to endorse him?]
 
The vast majority of Americans: The risk is very, very low.  Young and healthy people can expect to recover fully and quickly if they should get the virus.  The highest risk is for elderly population with underlying health conditions.  The elderly population must be very, very careful.

[The problem here is that the ‘young, healthy’ people can transmit the infection to others who are vulnerable.]
 
In particular, we are strongly advising that nursing homes for the elderly suspend all medically unnecessary visits.  In general, older Americans should also avoid nonessential travel in crowded areas. 
 
My administration is coordinating directly with communities with the largest outbreaks, and we have issued guidance on school closures, social distancing, and reducing large gatherings.
 
Smart action today will prevent the spread of the virus tomorrow.
 
Every community faces different risks and it is critical for you to follow the guidelines of your local officials who are working closely with our federal health experts — and they are the best. 

[Here is the key piece: the federal government is failing and useless and has no clue what to do, so Trump needs to rely – and probably blame – state and local officials who are doing their best to keep up with the needs. But key policies need to be made at the federal level. See Nicholas Kristof, “12 Steps to Tackle the Coronavirus” in New York Times of what Trump should have said and done.]
 
For all Americans, it is essential that everyone take extra precautions and practice good hygiene.  Each of us has a role to play in defeating this virus.  Wash your hands, clean often-used surfaces, cover your face and mouth if you sneeze or cough, and most of all, if you are sick or not feeling well, stay home.
 
To ensure that working Americans impacted by the virus can stay home without fear of financial hardship, I will soon be taking emergency action, which is unprecedented, to provide financial relief.  This will be targeted for workers who are ill, quarantined, or caring for others due to coronavirus.
 
I will be asking Congress to take legislative action to extend this relief.
 
Because of the economic policies that we have put into place over the last three years, we have the greatest economy anywhere in the world, by far. 

  [To the extent the US has in fact has greatest economy in the world, it is largely because of his abuse of tariff wars, sanctions, ending aid to undermine other economies.]

Our banks and financial institutions are fully capitalized and incredibly strong. 

[Thanks Obama! And Dodd Frank.]

Our unemployment is at a historic low.  This vast economic prosperity gives us flexibility, reserves, and resources to handle any threat that comes our way.
 
[He neglects to mention the $1 trillion budget deficits he has run despite his ‘historic’ strong economy, low unemployment. The fact that 40% of all Americans don’t have $400 available to cover an emergency.]

This is not a financial crisis, this is just a temporary moment of time that we will overcome together as a nation and as a world.  

[The next morning, the Dow plummeted another 2000 points, more than 7%, down to 21,400 from a high of 29,000 just a couple of weeks earlier. Trump was reported to have leveled a tirade at Federal Reserve Chair Powell for failing to cut interest rates even further than the half-point “emergency” cut a week ago.]

However, to provide extra support for American workers, families, and businesses, tonight I am announcing the following additional actions:  I am instructing the Small Business Administration to exercise available authority to provide capital and liquidity to firms affected by the coronavirus. 
 
Effective immediately, the SBA will begin providing economic loans in affected states and territories. These low-interest loans will help small businesses overcome temporary economic disruptions caused by the virus.  To this end, I am asking Congress to increase funding for this program by an additional $50 billion. 
 
Using emergency authority, I will be instructing the Treasury Department to defer tax payments, without interest or penalties, for certain individuals and businesses negatively impacted.  This action will provide more than $200 billion of additional liquidity to the economy.

  [How are the individuals and businesses chosen? What will this do to the Treasury’s ability to pay bills? How does starving the federal government of resources help the situation]

Finally, I am calling on Congress to provide Americans with immediate payroll tax relief.  Hopefully they will consider this very strongly.

[Payroll tax only helps people who are earning wages, not the people who are laid off or lose their jobs. The amount of money is so miniscule, people don’t even realize. And how does starving Medicare and Social Security of funding help? Instead, should be requiring paid sick leave, unemployment benefits expanded to people with fewer hours and contract workers. See Nicholas Kristof.]
 
We are at a critical time in the fight against the virus.  We made a life-saving move with early action on China.  Now we must take the same action with Europe.  We will not delay.  I will never hesitate to take any necessary steps to protect the lives, health, and safety of the American people.  I will always put the wellbeing of America first.

[Yet another undeserved pat on the back, and misguided focus on putting up walls instead of gearing up for the spreading epidemic in the country. Some 100 million are projected to get the illness; more than 1 million expected to die. Millions will jam emergency rooms and ICUs. There are only 1 million hospital beds and 700,000 of these are already occupied. People will die of heart attacks and other ailments because they cannot be accommodated. Doctors and nurses and health care workers will get sick or become so overworked they can’t function. Who is available to replace? What is Trump doing about that? Is he setting up mobile clinics, like MASH units? Sending out mobile testing vehicles. Doing drive-by testing as in South Korea which is handling 20,000 tests a day?]  

If we are vigilant — and we can reduce the chance of infection, which we will — we will significantly impede the transmission of the virus.  The virus will not have a chance against us. 
 
No nation is more prepared or more resilient than the United States.  We have the best economy, the most advanced healthcare, and the most talented doctors, scientists, and researchers anywhere in the world.

[More jingoism, American Exceptionalism. America First. Balderdash. Basically his argument is, ‘We will defeat this epidemic because we are The Greatest.’ And by the way, YOU DIDN’T BUILD THAT! Obama and predecessors handed Trump a strong economy, rescued from the depths of the Great Recession. Obama created the Affordable Care Act which covered 30 million more people than before, controlled health care costs, enabled more people to become doctors, nurses, health care workers.]
 
We are all in this together.  We must put politics aside, stop the partisanship, and unify together as one nation and one family. 

 [Biggest joke-on-America ever, since Trump, who wears a MAGA hat on CDC tour, and tells Pence not to praise Washington Governor Jay Inslee (“a snake”, and accuses Democrats and Nancy Pelosi of perpetrating a hoax in raising alarm about coronavirus in order to undermine him. As for abandoning the partisanship, what he really means, as Moscow Mitch always means when he uses the term “compromise” is “Do what we say, don’t criticize or point out why we are inept, corrupt, and out only for ourselves.”]


[Trump assailed Democrats hours after he implored lawmakers to “stop the partisanship.” Then the markets cratered, unassuaged by his economic proposals, New York Times reported.]  

As history has proven time and time again, Americans always rise to the challenge and overcome adversity. 
 
Our future remains brighter than anyone can imagine.  Acting with compassion and love, we will heal the sick, care for those in need, help our fellow citizens, and emerge from this challenge stronger and more unified than ever before.

[Such pablum. Trump reads the teleprompter in a monotone, the sentences running one into another. He has no idea what he just said.]
 
God bless you, and God bless America.  Thank you.
 
                         END                 9:12 P.M. EDT

See also:

Cuomo Pleads with CDC to Allow Coronavirus Testing in Private Labs to Better Monitor, Contain Spread

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Democratic Race for 2020: Warren Plan to Restore Integrity and Competence to Government After Donald Trump

Senator Elizabeth Warren, running for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president, released her plan to “Restore Integrity and Competence to Government After Donald Trump” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Elizabeth Warren released her plan to “Restore Integrity and Competence to Government After Donald Trump”

Donald Trump’s presidency has been a dark period in American history. That period won’t end just because Donald Trump has left office. If we want to write a new chapter in the American story — one in which the government and economy actually work for the people — we will have to cleanse the corruption from our government and urgently act to appoint officials who will bring integrity to public service,” Warren states.

This is from the Warren campaign:

Charlestown, MA – In one year, the next president will start her first full day of work. Donald Trump will be leaving behind a disaster: agencies gutted, others run by lobbyists and rife with corruption and policies that have thrown our country into crisis. The next president will need to have the energy, expertise, and vision to safeguard our country, rebuild the government swiftly, and make fundamental changes so that it works for the American people. 
 
Elizabeth has a plan to restore integrity and competence to government after Donald Trump. She will:
 
Address the corruption and incompetence of the Trump Administration by: 

Asking for the resignations of all political appointees, including U.S. Attorneys, with an exception only for those positions necessary to preserve continuity and protect national security during the transition period.

Establishing an independent Justice Department Task Force to investigate violations by Trump administration officials of federal bribery laws, insider trading laws, and other anti-corruption and public integrity laws, and give that task force independent authority to pursue any substantiated criminal and civil violations.

Reviewing the performance of independent agencies and removing leading officials for cause where there is justification to do so. 

Identifying federal contracting arrangements that arose as a result of corruption in the Trump administration – and ending them. 

 Swiftly appoint new personnel:

Elizabeth will announce her choices for the Cabinet by December 1, 2020, other top nominations by December 15, 2020, and fully staff all senior and mid-level White House positions by Inauguration Day.

She will not hire any current lobbyists. If someone has served as a corporate lobbyist in the past, they will have a six year cooling off period and there will be no waivers or exceptions. Non-corporate lobbyists will have a two year cooling off period, and any waivers will be made public.

She will also institute a number of rules to make sure that executive branch officials are working on behalf of the people – not themselves or their former employers.

She will use a number of existing tools to swiftly fill government vacancies. 

Build a government that reflects the energy and diversity of America:

The Cabinet and senior leadership team will reflect the full diversity of America, including having at least 50% of Cabinet positions filled by women and non binary people.

LGBTQ+ people will be represented across all levels of government, including in leadership roles.

She will diversify recruitment to direct real resources toward attracting entry-level applicants for public service from HBCUs, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and other minority-serving institutions, and reform high-level recruiting processes to attract diverse experienced hires into senior management positions.

She will create new paid fellowship programs for federal jobs for people from marginalized communities and low-income applicants, including formerly incarcerated individuals.

She will open up promotion pathways by requiring every federal agency to incorporate diversity as part of their core strategic plan and creating support networks through a government-wide mentorship program that centers Black and Brown employees. 

And she will recommit to President Obama’s efforts to raise the level of people with disabilities in federal service. 

Read more about her plan here and below:
 
One year from today, the next president will begin her first full day of work. She will be inheriting a government in crisis: from children in cages at detention facilities near the border to a reckless foreign policy that endangers our country and a bigoted ban on travelers from Muslim-majority countries, our country will be in desperate need of immediate course correction. Further, Donald Trump will leave behind a government that has been infected by corruption and incompetence, and his vindictive actions as president suggest that he is likely to do everything he can to undermine the next president. We cannot assume that everything will be fine once Donald Trump leaves office. The next president will need to have the energy, expertise, and vision to safeguard our country, rebuild the government swiftly, and make fundamental changes so that it works for the American people. 
 
I know how to get the government working for the people because I’ve done it before. Back in 2010, President Obama picked me to get the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) up and running. We recruited a mission-driven staff and set up the organization, and it took swift action to protect Americans from financial predators and make financial products safer. From defending people with crushing levels of student debt to fighting for servicemembers and their families who were targeted by financial vultures, the agency used every tool in its toolbox to stand up for ordinary Americans. And that agency has now returned more than $12 billion directly to people who were cheated. 
 
I have also spent the last seven years in the Senate studying the intimate details of how our government works, finding the levers that can bring about big structural change, and identifying the key positions that are responsible for making these changes. And I have learned from a diverse community of experts who share my vision for progressive, structural change and who know the executive branch inside and out.
 
My agenda would make our government and our economy work for everyone. It starts with anti-corruption reforms, democracy reforms, campaign finance reforms — reforms that will break the stranglehold that corporate interests have on Washington and get our government working for the people. We’ll also make our economy work for everyone — from cancelling student loan debt to providing universal child care for every kid age 0 to 5 to investing in green manufacturing. But achieving this agenda while also addressing the crises that Donald Trump has created will require an energetic president with expertise on how the executive branch works, a real commitment to making the executive branch free from corruption, and the courage to use every tool available to deliver for working families. 
 
Donald Trump has done serious damage to our government. Of over 700 key government posts requiring Senate confirmation, the Trump administration has failed to confirm nearly a third. At both the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice, less than half of all key positions have been filled. The Trump administration has had 28 acting cabinet secretaries over three years – more than the total number of acting secretaries in either Bill Clinton or Barack Obama’s eight years in office. Senior career civil servants have been leaving the Trump administration at a record pace. Approximately 1 in 5 members of the Senior Executive Service left the administration in 2017 – a far greater share than during previous transitions, draining the agencies of long-held expertise and institutional knowledge. 
 
Of the positions he has filled, Donald Trump has been stacking the government with lobbyists, campaign donors, and cronies. Halfway through his first term, he had already hired 281 lobbyists into political appointments. Shortly after being elected, thirty-eight percent of those he picked for high-level government jobs were donors and during his first two years, 40% of his ambassadors came from outside the foreign service. The mix of industry insiders and donors has both created turmoil and opened up an opportunity for big businesses to tilt the rules in their favor. This government run by and for lobbyists has dismantled workplace safety and environmental rules, health care protections, and dozens of other programs and regulations that benefit working people. 
 
Rebuilding our government to work for the people won’t just happen. It’s going to require painstaking work, extraordinary drive and urgency, and a serious plan to root out the corruption and incompetence that Trump will leave behind. That means cleaning out the corruption that has infected the government, and it means moving immediately to fill key jobs and set up agencies with capable officials committed to putting the public interest first. 
 
Addressing the Corruption and Incompetence of the Trump Administration
 
On day one of my presidency, I will take aggressive steps to root out the corruption and incompetence of the Trump administration and to hold that administration accountable. I will:  

Remove all political appointees. Rooting out the corruption in our government starts with wiping the slate clean on political appointments. Donald Trump gave influential, high-ranking positions to his donors, friends, and political allies. I will ask for the resignations of all political appointees, including U.S. Attorneys, save only those positions necessary to preserve continuity and protect national security during the transition period. 
 

Prevent political appointees from burrowing into career positions. The law outlines clear rules that help prevent political appointees from circumventing standard hiring practices and “burrowing” into the government by converting from a political appointment into a career position. I will strengthen enforcement of rules around conversion from appointed positions to career civil service to root out officials who attempt to burrow into agencies.
 

Establish a Justice Department Task Force to investigate corruption during the Trump administration and to hold government officials accountable for illegal activity. Donald Trump has run the most corrupt administration in history. He was impeached for withholding foreign aid in an effort to try to benefit his re-election campaign. He has enriched himself and his business through the power of his office. And there are public reports of potentially illegal corruption in every corner of his administration. If we are to move forward to restore public confidence in government and deter future wrongdoing, we cannot simply sweep this corruption under the rug in a new administration. That’s why I will direct the Justice Department to establish a task force to investigate violations by Trump administration officials of federal bribery laws, insider trading laws, and other anti-corruption and public integrity laws, and give that task force independent authority to pursue any substantiated criminal and civil violations. I have also committed to establishing a task force to investigate accusations of serious violations by immigration officials during the Trump era. 
 

Review the performance of independent agencies and remove leading officials for cause where there is justification to do so. For good reason, the heads of independent agencies can only be removed for cause — for example, if they neglect their duties or engage in malfeasance while in office. My administration will review these agencies and determine whether any of these agency heads warrant removal for cause — and I will not hesitate to use my for-cause removal authority if the facts justify it.
 

Identify federal contracting arrangements that arose as a result of corruption in the Trump administration – and end them. The corruption in the Trump administration extends beyond those who work for the government directly to those who have won contracts to execute government services. For example, Donald Trump repeatedly pushed the Army Corps of Engineers to award a border wall contract to a particular company; the company won the contract despite not meeting the standards for a bid. My administration will review major contracts executed under the Trump administration to identify conflicts of interest and other forms of corruption and take action to cancel any contracts procured as a result of corrupting influences.  

Swiftly Appoint New Personnel Who Will Undo the Trump Administration’s Disastrous Policies, Restore Integrity to Government, and Fight on Behalf of the American People
 
It would be foolish to assume that after Trump is gone, the government will start moving in the right direction all on its own. This will be no ordinary transition between administrations. One year from now, the next president will take charge in the middle of multiple crises – from the border, to our foreign policy, to the undermining of health, safety, and environmental rules, to the hollowing out and corruption of our public institutions.  
 
My transition will move faster than any transition in modern history to identify appointees and develop plans for making change starting on day one. Unlike previous transitions, we will not be able to assume good faith cooperation on the part of the outgoing administration, and we do not have an outgoing administration that shares even the most basic values. There will be no time to lose in putting teams in place to address the crises this administration has brought on our country – and to take action on the extraordinary challenges that the American people face. 
 
And that is why I am committing to announcing my choices for the Cabinet by December 1, 2020, other top nominations by December 15, 2020, and fully staff all senior and mid-level White House positions by Inauguration Day. Historically, the Obama administration was the most successful at sending nominations to the Senate, delivering 35 nominations for confirmation on his first day in office. As president, I will send the largest package of nominees to the Senate for confirmation on day one. In addition, I will have the senior and mid-level ranks of my White House fully staffed on day one, so that we can hit the ground running.
 

  Trump Obama GW Bush Clinton  GHW Bush
Day 1 28 35 13 25 18
Day 100 71 190 85 176 95
Day 200 277 433 414 345 315

 
Source: Partnership for Public Service, Center for Presidential Transition
 
have often said that personnel is policy. The choices of who to appoint are policy choices, because individuals make policy decisions. But personnel is also performance. If our government doesn’t have good people, it can’t perform for the American people. To meet this ambitious schedule while also ensuring that our government reflects the interests of all Americans, I will focus on three key areas: instituting hiring rules and practices that end the revolving door and prevent corruption; building an administration that reflects the experiences and diversity of our country; and using all available tools to swiftly fill vacancies.
 
Ending the Revolving Door and Preventing Corruption
We must ensure that the next administration isn’t afflicted by the corrupting influence of money that plagues Washington. I have introduced the biggest anti-corruption legislation since Watergate and my first priority as president is to pass my Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act, so that we can clean up every aspect of Washington policymaking. 
 
But there are many actions a president can take all by herself, and my administration will adopt the strictest anti-corruption hiring rules of any administration in American history. And that starts by ending the revolving door between big corporations and their lobbyists and government jobs.

My administration will not hire any current lobbyists.  If someone has served as a corporate lobbyist in the past, my administration will require them to have a six year cooling off period before they are eligible for a government position, and there will be no waivers or exceptions. Non-corporate lobbyists will have a two year cooling off period, and any waivers will be made public. 

My administration will not hire employees of for-profit federal contractors, unless I personally review the situation and decide it is in the national interest. For-profit contractors and licensees do business with the government – they are often awarded huge contracts and licenses for important federal projects. Unless I make a specific exception, my administration will not hire employees of such firms into the agencies or departments that awarded contracts to their former employers for four years after their last contract or license was awarded.

My administration will not hire executives of companies that break federal law or are under investigation unless six years have passed since the conclusion of the investigation or enforcement action. People in the private sector can have valuable experience to bring to public service. But too often, government agencies hire senior executives at companies and banks that have broken federal law, are subject to enforcement actions, or are under investigation. Leaders of companies and banks that don’t follow the law should not be in a position of public trust developing and enforcing the law. These appointments stop in my administration. 

My administration will not hire any person who receives a “golden parachute” from their employer. “Golden parachutes” – payments, bonuses, salaries, or other forms of compensation contingent on accepting a position in the federal government – create the impression that the recipients will work in their former employers’ best interest – not the public’s. A Warren administration will not allow such arrangements. 

In addition to these hiring restrictions, my administration will institute rules to make sure that executive branch officials are working on behalf of the people – not themselves or their former employers: 

To prevent conflicts of interest, officials in my administration will have to divest from any individual stock, bond, or other investment that federal ethics officials determine may be directly influenced by the actions of the employee’s agency. 

Senior officials in my administration will be required to divest from all complex investments – including individual stocks and bonds, as well as commercial real estate and privately-owned or closely-held businesses. 

Senior officials must also commit to divesting any interests in family trusts if ethics officials determine that an asset belonging to the trust might pose a conflict of interest.  

Further, executive branch officials who have not been Senate confirmed must recuse themselves from matters affecting their former employer, direct competitor, client, or organization that an employee belonged to in the last four years.  Senior officials will be prohibited from being employed by or consulting for the private sector while simultaneously working in the federal government. And anyone who volunteers for the federal government, including White House staff and advisors, will have to agree to abide by all federal ethics rules too. 
 
The revolving door goes both ways, and too often, people in government depart and take jobs working at the very firms they had been regulating. At best, this creates the appearance of corruption. At worst, individuals who are thinking about their next job corrupt the policymaking process to favor potential employers. We will end this kind of revolving door corruption. 

Senior members of my administration will be required to pledge not to accept a lobbying appointment after finishing their official duties – for life. This will apply to all members of my Cabinet, heads of agencies, my Vice President – and me.  

All other members of my administration will have to commit to not lobby their former office or agency for two years after they leave the administration – and six years if they become corporate lobbyists – or until the administration ends, whichever is longer.  

Senior government officials in my administration will also have to pledge for a year not to work for or accept payment from any company that has lobbied their department or office within the past two years. 

Senior government officials in my administration will be asked to commit not to work for any giant bank or company worth more than $150 billion, any federal contractor receiving more than $5 billion in revenue from federal contracts, or any market-dominant company, as determined by the Attorney General, for four years after leaving their post. And anyone in my administration who participated in the process of granting a contract or license to a for-profit contractor will also be required to agree not to accept a job with that contractor for at least four years after leaving government service. 

Both President Obama and President Trump issued their own ethics pledges at the start of their administrations – and despite good intentions, both failed to curb the number of lobbyists and government officials that spin through the revolving door. That’s why the steps I have outlined here will eliminate the loopholes in previous ethics pledges, principally by expanding the definition of ‘lobbyist’ to include anyone who is hired to influence government, not just those who are required to register as a lobbyist under current law. Additionally, my plan requires every executive branch employee – not just political appointees – to abide by these rules as a condition of their government service and extends the cooling off periods for executive branch staff to prevent them from lobbying their former agency or office through the end of an administration. And it removes the president’s ability to waive these requirements for corporate lobbyists and executives of law-breaking companies.
 
Building a Government that Reflects the Energy and Diversity of America
It is not enough, of course, to have people in government who don’t have conflicts of interest. We need people who are passionate about the mission of their agencies, deeply understand the needs and experiences of all Americans, and reflect the diversity of the American people. 
 
Under the Trump Administration, we have seen appointees who are actively hostile to the mission of their agencies. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos doesn’t believe in public education. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler doesn’t think climate change is a top priority. As President, I will appoint people who want to fulfill the purposes of our government, not undermine it — and that starts with some serious departures from the Trump Administration. For example, I will appoint: 

A Secretary of Education who has been a public school teacher.

A Secretary of Labor who has been a labor leader, and appointees to the National Labor Relations Board who have a record of fighting for workers.

A Secretary of Agriculture who has a demonstrated commitment to advocating for Black farmers.

A Secretary of Homeland Security who is committed to undoing the damage caused by the Trump administration and who believes that immigration makes our country stronger, not weaker.

Department of Justice officials who believe in voting rights and the rule of law – including for the president.

Antitrust officials who will aggressively scrutinize mergers, bring challenges to vertical and horizontal mergers, and are not afraid to take on big tech, big ag, big pharma, and other consolidated industries. 

A Securities and Exchange Commission chair who will require corporate political spending disclosure, strictly enforce our securities laws, and use all existing tools to require robust disclosure of climate-related risks.

A Federal Communications Commission chair who will restore the 2015 Net Neutrality rules, block monopolistic mergers by media and telecom corporations, and protect the Lifeline program that helps low-income Americans afford broadband Internet. 

An EPA head who believes in the urgency of addressing climate change and protecting our environment. 

Federal Reserve officials who believe in the agency’s full employment mandate, recognize that inflation fears have been overblown for years, and who are willing to let wages grow. 

Our government officials can best serve the American public when they reflect the diversity of the country itself. The federal government does a dismal job on diversity and inclusion. The share of Latinas in the federal workforce is about half that of the entire workforce. Even though Black women are disproportionately represented in the federal workforce, they are nearly absent from its leadership ranks. White workers make up nearly 80% of the senior civil service despite making up only 63% of the overall federal workforce. The Obama administration worked to raise the proportion of people with disabilities to more than 14% of the federal workforce, but that dropped to 9.2% under Trump. My administration will be committed to diversity and inclusion, starting on day one. I will: 

Build a Cabinet and senior leadership team that reflects the full diversity of America, including having at least 50% of Cabinet positions filled by women and non binary people.

Ensure representation of LGBTQ+ people across all levels of government, including in leadership roles.

Diversify recruitment to direct real resources toward attracting entry-level applicants for public service from HBCUs, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and other minority-serving institutions, and reform high-level recruiting processes to attract diverse experienced hires into senior management positions.

Create new paid fellowship programs for federal jobs for people from marginalized communities and low-income applicants, including formerly incarcerated individuals.

Open up promotion pathways by requiring every federal agency to incorporate diversity as part of their core strategic plan and creating support networks through a government-wide mentorship program that centers Black and Brown employees. 

Recommit to President Obama’s efforts to raise the level of people with disabilities in federal service — and I will include federal contractors and internship programs too.  

Using Existing Tools to Swiftly Fill Government Vacancies
To implement the kind of big, structural changes I have proposed, we will need to address the substantial vacancies in career civil service positions left behind by the Trump administration. For example, the State Department lost a significant percentage of its employees in the first year of the Trump Administration alone. The federal government has a number of tools to expedite hiring processes, and a Warren administration would use them to put well-qualified public servants to work as quickly as possible. For example:

My Office of Personnel and Management (OPM) will use its direct hire authority to identify areas of severe shortage and allow agencies to waive competitive hiring processes in these areas of critical need.

My administration will use its Veterans’ Recruitment Appointment authority to fill certain positions with veterans using expedited hiring processes. 

My administration will reinstate qualified government officials who left public service through a streamlined hiring process, and 

I’ll also ensure that federal agencies effectively use agency-specific hiring authorities to fill key positions. 

Finally, I will designate officials at OPM to work with agencies to ensure that they are using their hiring authorities as effectively as possible while also prioritizing diversity in hiring and following all relevant laws, regulations, and administration policies. 

Read Warren’s plan here