Category Archives: Government spending

Biden Reacts to Trump COVID Relief Executive Orders: ‘Unable to deliver for the American people in a time of crisis, Donald Trump offered a series of half-baked measures’

Vice President Joe Biden reacted to Trump’s COVID Relief Executive Orders, saying “Unable to deliver for the American people in a time of crisis, Donald Trump offered a series of half-baked measures.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

On Saturday, August 8, Trump signed four Executive Orders intended to substitute for Congressional Republicans compromising with Democrats on a relief package against the health and economic ravages of the coronavirus pandemic. In a vitriolic speech, delivered to a mini-rally assembled from among his Bedminister golf course members, he attacked the Democrats’ plan, threatened a stock market crash should Joe Biden become president, and promised to end the payroll tax (which funds Social Security) should he be elected.

Indeed, Trump delivered this campaign promise: to reduce income taxes and capital gains taxes (in order to goose the stock market), in effect robbing the US Treasury which is already over $25 trillion in debt with trillions added because of the 2017 GOP tax cuts and the trillions spent on COVID relief, much of it going to the wealthiest and best connected. Instead of providing aid to states and localities which have been devastated by depleted revenues and run-up in costs to address COVID-19, he put more of the burden on states to come up with his faux employment benefits (it requires 25% to be paid by states). Instead of funding election protection and the post office, he accused Democrats of stealing the election.

“The massive taxpayer bailout of badly run blue states we talked about — that’s one of the things they’re looking to do.  Measures designed to increase voter fraud,” he told his adoring audience. 

“You know what it’s about?  Fraud.  That’s what they want: fraud.  They want to try and steal this election because, frankly, it’s the only way they can win the election.  

“The bill also requires all states to do universal mail-in balloting — which nobody is — nobody is prepared for — regardless of whether or not they have the infrastructure.  They want to steal an election.  That’s all this is all about: They want to steal the election.”

Trump couldn’t resist attacking proposals for a Green New Deal:  “And they want to do the Green New Deal, which will decimate our country and decimate — it’s ridiculous, too.  It’s childish.  I actually say the Green New Deal is childish.  It’s for children.  It’s not for adults.”

And when asked what happens if the states can’t pony up the 25% to continue the $400 (not $600) unemployment benefits (the 75% that the federal government would spend would be coming from the states’ share of the CARES Act funding), he said,  “Well, if they don’t, they don’t… So I don’t think their people will be too happy.”

As for the reduction in unemployment benefits, Trump said, “this gives them a great incentive to go back to work.”

Questioned about the constitutionality of going around Congress, which has the sole “power of the purse,” Trump said, “This will go very [fast]– if — if we get sued.  Maybe we won’t get sued.  If we get sued, it’s somebody that doesn’t want people to get money.  Okay?  And that’s not going to be a very popular thing. “

Pressed whether a President should go around Congress  “ and decide how money is collected and spent?” Trump retorted, “You ever hear the word ‘obstruction’? “yes,” the reporter replied. “You were investigated for that.” 

Trump then replied, “They’ve obstructed.  Congress has obstructed.  The Democrats have obstructed people from getting desperately needed money.”  

“But this is in the Constitution, Mr. President,” the reporter insisted.
Asked why he keeps taking credit for Veterans Choice, which was passed in 2014 by the Obama Administration, Trump abruptly ended the press conference.

In reaction to Trump’s executive orders, Vice President Joe Biden, presumptive Democratic nominee for President, issued this statement: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Unable to deliver for the American people in a time of crisis, Donald Trump offered a series of half-baked measures today. He is putting Social Security at grave risk at a time when seniors are suffering the overwhelming impact of a pandemic he has failed to get under control. And make no mistake: Donald Trump said today that if he is re-elected, he will defund Social Security.

For months, Trump has golfed rather than negotiated, and sown division rather than pull people together to get a package passed. Now, instead of staying in Washington and working with Republicans and Democrats to reach a bipartisan deal, President Trump is at his golf club in New Jersey signing a series of dubious executive orders.

This is no art of the deal. This is not presidential leadership. These orders are not real solutions. They are just another cynical ploy designed to deflect responsibility. Some measures do far more harm than good.

One order is Donald Trump’s first shot in a new, reckless war on Social Security. Trump announced a payroll tax plan with no protections or guarantees — like the ones the Obama-Biden administration enforced a decade ago — that the Social Security Trust Fund will be made whole. And, Trump specifically stated today that if re-elected, he plans to undermine the entire financial footing of Social Security. He is laying out his roadmap to cutting Social Security. Our seniors and millions of Americans with disabilities are under enough stress without Trump putting their hard-earned Social Security benefits in doubt.

Another order brings cuts, chaos, and confusion to our system of unemployment insurance. Trump is unilaterally reducing the amount laid-off workers could receive. And he purports to provide these benefits until the end of the year, but only identifies enough funding to make it a handful of weeks. Even with that limited funding, Trump is basically playing a cruel game of robbing Peter to pay Paul: He is taking billions of dollars of federal natural disaster funding away so it won’t be available to states like Florida. And, he is forcing states to choose between imposing benefit cuts for unemployed workers or slashing funds for public schools, health workers, and first responders. 

A third order, on evictions, is woefully inadequate to deal with the emerging housing crisis. He is leaving our nation’s renters with ever-mounting debt and leaving our small family landlords badly squeezed. Without a comprehensive plan to help our American families make rent, they will leave this crisis months behind on their payments while many landlords teeter on the verge of bankruptcy. 

And a fourth order is a band-aid approach to student debt that leaves out 7 million borrowers who obtained their federal loans from private lenders or their college rather than the Department. The economic strain on these Americans is deep and unrelenting.

There is a solution to all of this pain and suffering. A real leader would go back to Washington, call together the leaders of the House and Senate, and negotiate a deal that delivers real relief to Americans who are struggling in this pandemic. We need a president who understands their struggle and believes in their courage to overcome. 

Biden Calls For An Emergency Housing Package to Save Millions from Eviction, Foreclosure

For Trump and the Republicans, the likely rise in homelessness because of mass evictions and foreclosures as a result of the economic collapse due to the coronavirus is another tool of voter suppression. Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president, is calling for an Emergency Housing Package (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president, calls out Trump and the Republicans for sitting by as 20 million Americans who have lost their jobs as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, now face eviction from their apartments, foreclosure from their homes (Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin made a fortune foreclosing on people in the 2008 Great Recession). The impacts of this collapse of family finances will follow for the rest of their lives, effectively canceling out the American Dream, if families can survive at all. I would submit what seems “merely”callous and indifferent to the suffering of so many is intentional. It is yet another tool in the Trump and Republicans’ campaign to suppress votes by likely Democratic voters – the more misery the better, but also, these voters can be challenged at the polls as no longer living where they were registered and unable to receive a vote-by-mail.

In contrast, Trump has elevated housing – fair housing – into another bullhorn call-out to his base. Just as he has done to sabotage Obamacare in the midst of a pandemic, he has rolled back an Obama-era rule – Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing — that required local governments provide fair housing in order to receive federal housing funds. Trump tweet-gloated, not even bothering to code his meaning about who he was appealing to and why: “I am happy to inform all the people living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream that you will no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built inyour neighborhood…Your housing prices will go up based on the market, and crime will go down. I have rescinded the Obama-Biden AFFH Rule. Enjoy!”

This is a statement from Vice President Biden on what a functioning federal response to such widespread homelessness should be: pass an emergency housing relief package –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Today is the first day of another month where rent and mortgage payments are due for millions of Americans who are already living on the edge. It comes a day after President Trump and Leader McConnell sent the Senate home for the weekend and allowed enhanced unemployment insurance, which millions of families have been using to pay their rent and bills, to lapse. And, the day after, we found out the last three months have been the worst period for our economy in recorded history. Hundreds of thousands of small businesses have shut their doors, with minority entrepreneurs especially hard hit. More than 30 million Americans are struggling to get by as their unemployment benefits are about to get sharply cut. Over the next two months, with no federal eviction moratorium in place, as many as 20 million families could find themselves out in the street without a safe place to live.
 
Because Donald Trump is abdicating his responsibility to lead us out of the pandemic crisis and the economic crisis, we now face a potential housing crisis across the country.
 
To prevent a catastrophic rise in evictions and homelessness, President Trump must work with Congress to act swiftly and enact a broad emergency housing support program for renters, just as we would in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Such a step would get help out quickly and at scale so that millions of people aren’t evicted or forced to choose between rent and food. Congress must also provide emergency unemployment benefits, greater access to food and nutrition programs, and full subsidies to allow families to keep their health insurance, so that the loss of one family member’s job doesn’t push the family into foreclosure and on the streets. This legislation must also include the fiscal relief necessary so state and local governments can keep on payroll the first responders, public school educators, and other public servants who ensure our cities and towns are clean, safe, and running.
 
Combined, these steps could put the nation in a much stronger position to handle the strain the virus is putting on millions of Americans and our entire economy. They are among many others we must take.
 
But we need a President to care, lead, and act.

$877 Billion Arts Industry Appeals for Federal Financial Relief from COVID-19: ‘Dear Senators, Be An Arts Hero’

Broadway theater has been shuttered by coronavirus pandemic © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

As Congress contemplates another round of COVID-19 relief, one massive part of the economy is consistently overlooked, yet has proved so vital in bolstering quality of life during this unprecedented public health emergency in which people must be distanced and isolated: the arts. Shutting down theaters, performance spaces, concerts, exhibitions, museums, galleries and cultural spaces has resulted in hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs, their careers. Many of these institutions are non-profits, which routinely struggle for financial resources. Now, the industry has created Be An Arts Hero (beanartshero.com), to lobby for support using the same arguments as other industries that are getting more attention: hospitality, airlines, cruiselines, restaurants. This is a “Dear Senators” letter:

The $877 billion our industry generated last fiscal year is about to disappear. The 4.5% we added to our GDP—about to vaporize. We are second only to Retail as the most powerful economic driver of this economy, boasting an export of $72.6 billion and an annual growth rate of 4.16% , nearly double that of the U.S. economy as a whole at 2.2%. Without your immediate action for financial relief by August 1, we will collapse, and the result will be an economic cataclysm.  

We are the Arts Economy. We are everywhere. And our fates are tied together. 

We are over 675,000 small businesses and organizations in every town, city, and state, employing 5.1 million hard-working Americans who are now desperately struggling to stay above water. Our influence reaches across every sector because the Arts Economy is a jobs multiplier, creating millions of sustainable jobs in collateral arts-adjacent economies. In short, our institutions of Arts and Culture anchor communities, producing highly interdependent commercial ecosystems that depend on rank-and-file Arts Workers who increase tax revenue, real estate value, and attract businesses, large and small. These are the dominoes. If you lose us, we lose the economy. We need your help. 

We are Florida’s largest job creator at 260,999 jobs, bringing in $36,937,050,840 (3.7%) to Florida’s state revenue. America’s favorite theme park which was built by union carpenters and construction workers, now runs on the working-class labor of the administrative staff who operate the day-to-day; the engineers who make it move; the electricians who keep it bright; the painters and pyro-technicians who explode it with color; the custodians who keep it clean; and the actors, dancers, and musicians who bring it to life. We need your help. 

We are New York City’s main economic driver: in 2019, Broadway sold more tickets than all the NY and NJ sports teams combined, creating a revenue of $1.83 Billion in ticket sales, generating even more in Arts-adjacent businesses. On any night out, our audiences take public transportation, taxis, and Ubers/Lyfts; pay for childcare; go shopping; and by record numbers, they go to restaurants which employ kitchen staff, waiters, and bussers who rely on food delivery trucks whose companies purchase goods from farmers, who are now mass killing their livestock and burning their crops because their industry is crashing. We need your help.  

We account for $30.3 billion (3.7% of GSP) of the Illinois economy and contribute over 224,000 jobs. In Chicago, alone, that’s $2.25 billion in economic activity annually. If we go missing, the economic implosion in our neighborhoods, in our cities, and in our state will take decades to rebuild. 

We are a $1 billion economy in Wyoming, $2.9 billion in Nebraska, $4.2 billion in Iowa, $7 billion in Utah, $8.3 billion in Indiana, $9 billion in Arizona, $10 billion in Missouri, $15 billion in North Carolina, $19 billion in Ohio, $24 billion in Georgia, $44 billion in Washington, $46 billion in Texas, and $230 billion in California. We are Big Business because we are Local Business, creating and sustaining jobs across trades, not to mention the Artists themselves.  

Artists, whose creativity has elevated our best moments and now sustain us through one of our worst. Artists, who require your signature as a byline to one of the most consequential stories of your tenure; the story where you:

1. Extend Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) by August 1, before 28 million of your constituents are evicted and on the streets.

2. Create a 100% subsidy for COBRA to protect workers’ healthcare, with eligibility extended to 36 months.

3. Provide $43.85 billion in economic relief to sustain our Arts and Culture institutions: this relief should go directly to the NEA, NEH, IMLS, and CPB, to be appropriated to its partner organizations across the towns, cities, suburbs, exurbs, and rural areas in which they operate. This $43.85 billion is 5% of our generated revenue for 2019, which is proportionate to the $50 billion you gave to the top ten airlines who successfully lobbied for your assistance. We ask for nothing more than immediate and proportionate economic relief. 

The cost of this relief and FPUC’s extension of $85/day ($600 extra dollars a week) will pale compared to your inaction, which is estimated to cost trillions and will devastate working people. Families and individuals who depend on our colossal Arts Economy are struggling to pay rent and put food on the table as they face anxiety over whether they can make it past August 1. Our very humanity—and the Humanities—teeter at the edge of a fiscal and existential cliff. If we fall, so does the identity of America itself, for we are the very expression of this nation. And right now, we are crying out for your action.  

Dear Senators, you are at your finest when you come together to hear the collective call of your people, one people, without prejudice to partisanship or politic, and with a heart full of love for all whom you represent. We are not only calling on you to represent us, we are calling on you to represent this moment. We are calling on you to represent our future. We are calling on you to represent the history that you are about to make.  

Dear Senators, now is your time. The nation is bearing witness. You hundred women and men stand at the center of America’s stage and we are calling upon you to act. You have the power to save your people and revitalize your country in its darkest hour. And we are desperate for Light. Dear Senators, the ink is still wet, you hold the pen, and the story of this nation is in your hands. 

UNITED WE STAND, 

Matthew-Lee Erlbach 
THE ARTS ECONOMY

Co-signatories of this letter include working-class Arts Workers in solidarity with the most preëminent Arts Leaders and Institutions of the United States.

Cuomo Tells Trump to ‘Be Bold & Build’ to Spur Covid-Ravaged Economy, Blasts Washington’s Hyper-Partisanship

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo at the National Press Club, Washington DC, after meeting Trump at the White House, calling for COVID-19 aid to states and localities, repeal of the SALT cap, and a bold infrastructure spending plan (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

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.”

See also: Politicizing a Pandemic

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© 2020 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

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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© 2020 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Cuomo Hits Back at McConnell’s ‘Drop Dead Blue States’ Remarks as GOP Says Will Put Brakes on Aid in Midst of Pandemic

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo hit back hard on Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch  McConnell signaling he would block aid to states most impacted by the coronavirus. McConnell boasted in a press release that he had no intention of bailing out “blue states.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo hit back hard on Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch  McConnell signaling he would block aid to states most impacted by the coronavirus. McConnell, boasted in a press release that he had no intention of bailing out “blue states.”

Cuomo, who is staring down a $15 billion budget deficit, said that without federal aid, states (which are not allowed to go bankrupt) would be forced to cut back on health workers, police, fire, teachers, mass transit and social services as the state.

“15,000 people died in New York, but they were predominantly Democratic so why help them? Don’t help New York State because it is a Democratic state? How ugly a thought. Think of what he’s saying,” Cuomo said during his April 23 press briefing.

“For crying out loud, if there were ever a time for you to put aside your pettiness, your partisanship, your political lens you see the world through – help Republicans but not Democrats – that’s not who we are. If ever there was a time for humanity, decency, now is the time.”

Except that is exactly who McConnell and the Republicans are, and demonstrated it through every crisis.

McConnell is clearly seeing the political advantage of pushing Blue States into near bankruptcy – that figured into how he constructed the 2017 Tax Act which limited the deductibility of State and Local Taxes (SALT) because it would adversely impact blue states over red ones, force state government to cut back on services or risk a tax revolt.

But Cuomo also pointed to the stupidity of that: California is the world’s 5th largest economy and accounts for 14% of US GDP; New York State is the third largest economy in US, accounting for 8% of GDP – taken together, these two states alone account for nearly one-fourth of GDP.

“If New York and California are allowed to go bankrupt, that would take down the entire economy,” Cuomo said.

Moreover, Cuomo insisted, “When it comes to fairness, New York State puts much more money into the federal pot than it takes out. At the end of the year, we put in $116 billion more than we take out. His state, Kentucky, takes out $148 billion more than they put in. He’s a federal legislator distributing the federal pot of money  and New York puts in more money to fed pot than takes out, his state takes out more than it puts in. Senator McConnell,  who’s getting bailed out? It’s your state that is living on the money that we generate. Your state is getting bailed out. Not my state.

“How do you not fund schools, hospitals in the midst of crisis, police, fire, healthcare – frontline – if you can’t fund the state, the state can’t fund those services. It makes no sense.” (Probably the same way you cut $500 million in funding to the World Health Organization in the midst of a pandemic.)

“The entire nation depends on what governors do to reopen,  but then not fund state government? I am I going to do it alone?

“States should declare bankruptcy? That’s how to bring the national economy back? You want to see that market fall through the cellar, just let New York State declare bankruptcy, Michigan, Illinois, California declare bankruptcy. You will see a collapse of the national economy. That’s just dumb.”

Reports are showing that the $350 billion intended to help small businesses get through the crisis has almost entirely gone to big, profitable businesses and entities with close ties to banks. (See: Banks Gave Richest Clients ‘Concierge Treatment’ for Pandemic Aid)

The National Governors Association, a bipartisan group of governors from around the country, wrote federal officials this week pleading for $500 billion to help them make up for lost tax revenues during what they called “the most dramatic contraction of the U.S. economy since World War II.”

None of the four stimulus bills that have passed the Senate, amounting to trillions of dollars of funding, have provided any aid to states hardest hit by the virus. As it happened, these happen to be Democratic states – New York, which accounts for almost one-third of all coronavirus cases and deaths; New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois and California.

Republicans have been gleeful at sending billions to corporations and well-connected, able to skirt whatever oversight and provisions the Democrats had tried to impose (Trump said he would take the reporting requirements as a suggestion and promptly fired the Inspector General), balked at expanding unemployment assistance, and reneged on promises to help states now billions in the red because of the expenses of maintaining services as revenues have all but dried up with the lock-down of all but essential work.

Mimicking his obstruction to Obama’s recovery when refused to allocate enough money for the Recovery Act, McConnell has been content to see the budget deficit rise by $3 trillion (on top of the $1 trillion Trump added even as the economy boomed, because of the Republican tax scam) as long as it could be steered to friendly industries and donors, now  expressed glee to let blue states go bankrupt.

“I think this whole business of additional assistance for state and local governments needs to be thoroughly evaluated,” McConnell said in an interview with the conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. “There’s not going to be any desire on the Republican side to bail out state pensions by borrowing money from future generations.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has consistently asserted that future stimulus bills would send aid to states and localities, but McConnell is now signaling that now that they have gotten four stimulus bills amounting to a slush fund with little oversight and accountability, they will be unwilling to provide direct help to states. All of a sudden, they are concerned about rising debt. (Reminder: Republicans shut down government and threatened to refuse to raise the debt ceiling during Obama unless Obama would rescind Obamacare from the budget.)

Once this last stimulus bill passes the House, as is expected, Democrats will lose all leverage to get aid to states, localities, hospitals, workers and the unemployed.

Meanwhile, Cuomo reported on the preliminary results of the state’s first statewide survey intended to determine what percentage of the population has antibodies after being exposed to the infection.

The preliminary results suggest that 13.6% of the state has been infected (and now has antibodies), with the greatest proportion downstate: 21.2% of people in New York City, 16.7% of Long Island, 11.7% of Westchester/Rockland and 3.6% of the rest of the state. The 3,000 in the sample were randomly surveyed in grocery stores and box-stores – in other words, people who were out and about.

Based on that infection rate, it would suggest that 2.7 million New Yorkers have been infected. If that were true, the 15,500 fatalities would suggest a death rate of 0.5%. However, Cuomo stressed that the fatalities counted were only those that took place in hospitals and nursing homes, but do not include those who died at home.

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© 2020 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Amid Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, NYS Ramps Up Antibody Testing Critical to Reopening Economy, Calls Upon Federal Support, Partners with NJ, CT; Seeks Heroes Compensation Fund

NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo points to success in flattening the curve of coronavirus infection in the state which already has more cases than any other country, but warns against complacency, saying it is the stay-at-home policies that have worked (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Offers Full Partnership with Federal Government as Part of State’s Continued Efforts to Bring Mass Testing to Scale; New York Will Partner with Connecticut and New Jersey to Create a Regional Testing Partnership

Announces $200 Million in Emergency Food Assistance for More Than 700,000 Low-Income Households Enrolled in SNAP

Governor is Working with Congressional Delegation to Create a COVID-19 Heroes Compensation Fund

Announces New Partnerships with Private Sector to Provide Free Housing for Frontline Medical Workers

Releases ‘New York Tough’ Video Showing How New Yorkers are Spending Their Time at Home, Building on Ongoing State Efforts to Reach All Communities in New York with the Life-Saving Stay Home Message – Video is Available Here

Confirms 10,575 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State – Bringing Statewide Total to 170,512; New Cases in 54 Counties

The reason that the national coronavirus numbers are plateauing is because New York State, with more coronavirus cases than any other country, has brought down the rates of new infections, even as the daily death toll remains high. But it is not clear whether COVID-19 has yet to strike places where the numbers seem relatively low, because there is not sufficient testing. Trump is pushing to reopen the economy – desperate to be able to go into the election with a strong economy, low unemployment rates, high Dow – without care that lifting stay-at-home mitigation will trigger new spikes in infections and new waves, as are already being experienced in some Asian countries.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has received high marks for his command-and-control that clearly has resulted in significantly lower rates of infection than a slew of statisticians predicted could happen if steps to contain the virus were not implemented, said as much. Looking ahead to how and when the state could get back to work, he warned against doing it too early or too suddenly. Testing – both to diagnose and to determine if someone has the antibodies to effectively be immune to the coronavirus – is critical and he called for the federal government to exercise the Defense Production Act to get private labs and manufacturers to bring tests up to scale, that is, by the tens of millions.—Karen Rubin, news-photos-features.com.

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced New York State is ramping up antibody testing, a key component of any plan to reopen the economy. The state is currently conducting 300 of these antibody tests, and is on track to conduct 1,000 per day by next Friday and 2,000 per day by the following week. As part of the state’s continued efforts to bring mass testing to scale, the Governor offered a full partnership with the federal government to conduct this important work. In the interim, the Governor announced that New York, Connecticut and New Jersey will create a regional testing partnership to bring mass testing to scale for residents in these states.

Governor Cuomo also announced an additional $200 million in emergency food assistance will be available for more than 700,000 low-income households enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Those enrolled in SNAP and not yet receiving the maximum benefit will receive an additional payment to bring them up to this amount in March and April. The supplemental benefits will be issued in April and delivered directly to recipients’ existing Electronic Benefit Transfer accounts. Households eligible for the supplement that live in counties outside of New York City will begin receiving the supplemental emergency benefit starting on April 13, and all eligible households will have received it by April 24. In New York City, the emergency benefits will be issued starting on April 14, and the issuance completed on April 25.

Governor Cuomo is also working with New York’s Congressional delegation to create a COVID-19 Heroes Compensation Fund to support health care and other frontline workers and their families who contracted COVID-19.

The Governor also announced new partnerships with the private sector to provide housing for frontline medical workers. Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky will contribute $2 million to help provide rooms in union hotels at no cost to frontline workers. As part of this effort, 1199SEIU is partnering with Airbnb to offer housing to its members — comprised of hospital and other healthcare workers — as they fight the COVID-19 crisis statewide. Additionally, the InterContinental Times Square, Yotel and the Hudson Hotel are providing an additional 800 free rooms for health care workers coming to New York City from out of state, collaborating with the Hotel Association of New York City, MetLife and the Related Companies.

As part of Governor Cuomo’s social media awareness campaign, the state today released a video that features New Yorkers showing us their reality as they stay home under the state-wide Pause restrictions. Working in partnership with Resonant Pictures, the state put out a call for photographs of life in the city over the past three weeks. The video, set to the iconic song by The Fray, truly illustrates “How to Save a Life,” during the pandemic.

“The data has shown that what we do today will determine the infection rate two or three days from now, so we must continue to do what we are doing even though it is difficult –because it is working,” Governor Cuomo said. “The key to reopening is going to be testing. New York State has been very aggressive on testing, and our state lab is now developing an antibody test which is fast and non-invasive. The State Department of Health can currently do 300 tests a day and by next Friday, they will be able to do 1,000 tests and 2,000 tests the following week. That’s great, sounds like a lot, but 2,000 tests are still a drop in the bucket, and I’m proud of how New York has advanced on testing.”

NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo on needing a stimulus bill that actually addresses the needs of state and local governments: “ou need a fair federal stimulus bill that is not a political pork barrel bill. You know where the cases are. You know where the need is. I understand the political dynamics of the U.S. Senate but this is not a time to be passing bills that really are to make sure your home state gets enough funding. That’s not what this is about. This is about helping the country coming back and focusing on the need. When I says the bills were unfair to New York, the past bills, it is not just that I am advocating to New York. Look at the need. Look at where the cases are. Look at where the damage has been done.” (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Here is more of what Governor Cuomo said in his daily briefing:

“New York State has been very aggressive on testing and our state lab has been very aggressive on testing. Our state lab is now developing an antibody test which is a fast and not invasive test. The State Department of Health can do 300 tests a day. By next Friday, they will be able to do 1,000 tests and 2,000 tests the following week. That’s great, sounds like a lot but 2,000 tests are still a drop in the bucket, and I’m proud of how New Yorkers advanced on testing. You look at how quickly New York State has moved on testing and how many tests we have done – we’ve done a higher percentage of tests in New York State than other countries have done and New York State far exceeds what this nation as a whole is doing on testing. Even with our high capacity and high performance on testing it’s still not enough. It’s not enough if you want to reopen on a meaningful scale and reopen quickly so the testing front is going to be a challenge for us.

“Why can’t New York just develop more tests and do more testing? How do we get New York State Department of Health to scale? That’s an issue that we’ve been working on it’s harder than it sounds. You need certain reagents so you can do the testing. You need certain materials so you can do the testing. It’s very hard to get these reagents right. You’re in a situation where countries all across the globe are trying to do the same thing.

“Federal government has something called the Defense Production Act, DPA they call it, which I’ve been saying from day one is a very powerful tool for the federal government to use when they need to secure a product in the defense of this nation. This is in the defense of this nation. The federal government has used it effectively. They’ve used that in this situation more as a point of leverage than anything else, basically saying to a company, you know, we need you to do this, we do have the Defense Production Act that we could use. But we need an unprecedented mobilization where government can produce these tests in the millions.

“New York State Department of Health is doing is doing several thousand. We have 9 million people we want to get back to work. You need more than several thousand tests per week if this is going to happen any time soon. Private sector companies on their own, I don’t believe will be able to come to scale. We’re working with the private sector companies. They have the tests but they don’t have the capacity to come to scale. You’re going to need government intervention to make that happen and the federal government is in the best position to do that.

“New York State offers to be a full partner with the federal government. We do have the largest number of cases in New York. New York is an economic engine. I can’t do it as a state. If I had a Defense Production Act in the state, I would use it. I would use it. I don’t have that tool, the federal government does. Any way we can partner with the federal government to get these tests up to scale as quickly as possible, we are all in. I like to operate as a coalition with New Jersey and Connecticut because we are the tri-state area. I have spoken to Governor Murphy and Governor Lamont of Connecticut. They will join in a testing coalition. So, I ask the federal government if you are willing to step in and use the federal powers, New York State and New Jersey and Connecticut would partner with the federal government. And let’s get the testing up to scale quickly so we can start to build that bridge to reopening the economy.

“Second on reopening, you need a federal stimulus bill. You need a federal stimulus bill – they passed a couple already. But you need a fair federal stimulus bill that is not a political pork barrel bill. You know where the cases are. You know where the need is. I understand the political dynamics of the U.S. Senate but this is not a time to be passing bills that really are to make sure your home state gets enough funding. That’s not what this is about. This is about helping the country coming back and focusing on the need. When I says the bills were unfair to New York, the past bills, it is not just that I am advocating to New York. Look at the need. Look at where the cases are. Look at where the damage has been done. The federal government is trying to address that damage. You know where it has been done. Look at the chart on where the cases exist. Look at the number of deaths, the number of cases, the number of hospitalizations and help those places come back and come back quickly. That’s what the stimulus bill is supposed to be doing.

“Also, let’s make sure we are learning from what we just went through and are going through. Because there are lessons I think we should all be aware of over the past few months. And before you take a step forward, let’s make sure we know what we are stepping into. A question I had from day one, when you look back at this, where were the horns that should have been triggered back in December and January. Where were the warning signs? Who was supposed to blow the whistle? The President has asked this question and if think he’s right. The President’s answer is the World Health Organization should have been blowing the whistle. I don’t know enough to know if that’s right or wrong, but I know the question is right and sometimes the question is more important than the answer.

“How did this happen? I still want to know how this happened. Because the warning signs were there. And if you don’t know the answer, then how do you know it is not going to happen again, right? Fool me once – January, you go back and look at the headlines in January and you see questions and you see warnings. Now, they were all over the map, but we saw what was happening in Asia. We saw what was happening in Europe. Where were the international experts saying, ‘Well, if this is happening there, this is what we should expect to happen in the United States? Or prepare to happen in the United States?’ January, February, you still had sources in this country saying basically there’s nothing to worry about. You know, how did that happen? Did we really need to be in this situation where the United States winds up with a higher number of cases than the places that went before? We sat here and we watched China. China winds up have 84,000 cases, we wind up having 474,000 cases. I mean, how does that happen? We saw South Korea. They wind up with 10,000 cases. Italy, where we saw a collapse of the whole health system, winds up with 143,000 cases.

“I raise the question because the answer, again, is less important than the question, but before we move forward let’s make sure we’re not repeating the same mistake that we made, right? George Santayana. ‘Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ I don’t want to repeat what we just repeated, what we just went through over this past month.

“So, what are the relevant questions? Is there going to be a second wave? Let’s look at the countries that have gone through this reopening process and what can we learn from them? Right? Well, we have to start to reopen. Let’s look at what the other countries who have gone before us, what they did, what worked and what didn’t work. When you take just a cursory review you see caution signs. Hong Kong appeared to have the virus under control, they let its guard down, the virus came back. Hong Kong recorded the biggest rise in cases and a new wave of infections. Is that true? Could it happen here? Article yesterday, Italy has seen a bump in the number of cases. You know, before we take a step make sure we are more informed and more aware than we were in the past. They’re talking about a second wave in Singapore.

“You got back and you look at the 1918 flu epidemic. That was over 10 months. There was a first wave, there was a second wave. The second wave was worse than the first wave because the virus mutated. Third peak and the whole experience was 10 months. Is there any extrapolation to where we are today? I don’t know the answers. This is not what I do. It’s not what a state does.

“But, we know the questions and we should have the questions answered before we take a step forward. Yes, no one has been here before. These are totally uncharted waters. But we do know that none of this is predetermined and it is all a function of our actions. We are in total control of our destiny here. What we do will effect literally live and death for hundreds of people.

“So, where do we go from here? First, keep doing what we’re doing. Stay home because that works. We are flattening the curve, we must continue to flatten the curve. We have to get testing to scale. That is an entirely new exercise. It’s something we still haven’t done well in this country. We need both diagnostic testing and antibody testing. We need millions and millions of them. We need them in a matter of weeks, not months.

“We have to be more prepared as a nation. We should never go through this scramble that we went through with states competing against other states to buy masks from China. I mean, we should just never have been here in the first place, but certainly we should never be here again. And then let’s make sure we study the waters ahead and proceed with caution before we set off on the next journey. When we talk about reopening, let’s study the data and let’s look at what has happened around the world. Let’s make sure the best health minds in the country are giving us their best advice.

“How do we go forward? We stay New York tough. New York tough means more than just tough, it means discipline. It means unified. It means loving. And it means smart. Now is a time to be smart. Now more than ever. That’s what it means to be New York tough and we are.”

“The actual curve, today 18,569, is much, much better. How do you create a curve so different from the projections? In fairness to experts, nobody has been here before, and a big variable was what policies would put in place, and a bigger variable is whether people listen to the policies you put in place. Just because you announce a policy– to close businesses and everybody stay home – if people don’t take seriously or feel is political, they wouldn’t follow it.”

Finally, the Governor confirmed 10,575 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 170,512 confirmed cases in New York State. Of the 170,512 total individuals who tested positive for the virus, the geographic breakdown is as follows:

CountyTotal PositiveNew Positive
Albany42647
Allegany264
Broome1127
Cattaraugus181
Cayuga2711
Chautauqua202
Chemung590
Chenango605
Clinton433
Columbia744
Cortland171
Delaware392
Dutchess1,598105
Erie1,40947
Essex102
Franklin110
Fulton183
Genesee659
Greene346
Hamilton30
Herkimer364
Jefferson431
Lewis60
Livingston293
Madison998
Monroe74244
Montgomery291
Nassau21,5121,372
Niagara15610
NYC92,3845,356
Oneida17214
Onondaga36911
Ontario518
Orange4,532442
Orleans242
Oswego360
Otsego412
Putnam48749
Rensselaer9112
Rockland7,122457
Saratoga18210
Schenectady19124
Schoharie120
Schuyler51
Seneca150
St. Lawrence782
Steuben11728
Suffolk18,6921,279
Sullivan31824
Tioga181
Tompkins1050
Ulster53070
Warren433
Washington261
Wayne412
Westchester18,0771,073
Wyoming301
Yates21

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

Coronavirus Epidemic: Warren Outlines Decisive Plan to Keep American Families Healthy & Stabilize Economy

Sanders to Trump: Stop Playing Politics with our Health and National Security  

Warren Brings 2020 Campaign to Long Island City to Call for Breaking Up Big Tech, Corporate Giants

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), a declared 2020 candidate for 2020 presidential nomination, came to Long Island City, where local activists rejected Amazon, to propose a plan to rein in big tech and other giant multi-national companies that use their economic power to stifle competition and intimidate government. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features

The venue for Senator Elizabeth Warren’s rally was strategic for her message: a former warehouse with dank walls now used for an entertainment space in Long Island City, the neighborhood that booted Amazon, despite its promise to bring 25,000 jobs, in exchange for a $3 billion tax incentive.

The message the declared 2020 Democratic candidate for president brought to the 600 eager supporters was that it is time to break up the high-tech companies that have come to wield out-sized economic power more like government, dictating demands and reclaim government for the people.

“We have these giant corporations — do I have to tell that to people in Long Island City? — that think they can roll over everyone,” she said, comparing Amazon to “The Hunger Game.”

“Giant corporations shouldn’t be able to buy out competition. Competition has to be able to thrive and grow.”

“Who does government work for? Just the richest people and corporations? I want government that works for the people.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 2020 Democratic candidate for president at rally in Long Island City, NY
© Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“I spent whole life wondering what happening to middle class, why so much rockier, steeper, and even rockier and steeper for people of color – what has gone wrong in America.

“Our government works great for giant drug companies, not for people needing prescription drugs; for giant oil companies, not for people who see climate change bearing down; great for payday lenders, not for people of color and communities and poor people who are targeted, whose lives are turned upside down.

“It’s corruption plain and simple and we need to call it out.

“Whichever issue brought you here – income gap, climate change, affordable child care, housing – whatever issue brought you here, I guarantee decisions made in Washington that directly touch – runs straight through corruption in Washington…. We need big structural change.”

Some 600 people turned out for Senator Elizabeth Warren’s rally in Long Island City. “Whichever issue brought you here – income gap, climate change, affordable child care, housing – whatever issue brought you here, I guarantee runs straight through corruption in Washington…. We need big structural change.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Her prescription: change the rules of government, of the economy, of politics:

Where to start? Change the rules of government by taking corruption head on.

“I introduced the biggest anti-corruption bill since Watergate; it’s big, long, complex, but here are a few pieces:

“End lobbying as we know it. Stop the revolving door between Wall Street and Washington; make Supreme Court follow the basic rules of ethics. Anyone who wants to run for federal office, must release their taxes.

“We need workers to have more power, we need stronger unions. Unions built American middle class and will rebuild the American middle class.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 2020 Democratic candidate for president at rally in Long Island City, NY © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Warren is advocating an ultra millionaire’s tax: imposing 2% tax for those with over $50 million in assets.  That means the top 0.1% -75,000 households. She estimates that would generate $2.4 trillion.

In what sounds like an expansion of Obama’s oft-taken-out-of-context line, “You didn’t build that,” Warren justifies the wealth tax saying, “I’m tired of free loading billionaires. You built (or inherited) your fortune, good for you, but you built it using workers we educated, roads and bridges we paid to build, police – all helped. So yeah, you built a great fortune, so give a little back to the American people (who enabled you).

It’s a property tax, she said, not unlike the property tax that any homeowner, farmer, condo owner all pay, but includes the Picassos, diamonds and yachts.

What would it do? It would fund universal child care, and still have billions left over.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 2020 Democratic candidate for president at rally in Long Island City, NY © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

To change the rules of politics and protect our democracy, she said, “I want to see a constitutional amendment to protect the right to vote and make sure every vote gets counted. Overturn Citizens United.” (adding that she isn’t taking any corporate PAC money, but is depending on grassroots donations, ElizabethWarren.com.)

“I don’t go to closed door meetings with millionaires. I’m here with you.”

“My father was a janitor but his daughter got a chance to be a teacher, a college professor, a Senator and a candidate for President of the United States. I believe in opportunity because I’ve lived it. I want an American where every child gets a chance to build a future.

“This is our moment. Dream big. Let’s win.”

She then took questions (the questioners were picked at random):

Senator Elizabeth Warren and State Senator Michael Gianaris, at rally in Long Island City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Asked her view of Governor Andrew Cuomo trying to woo Amazon back after local progressives including State Senator Michael Gianaris, who introduced her at the rally,  she said, “This is like ‘Hunger Games’ – it is not just the enormous economic power, but  the political power they wield.

“A handful of companies spend $50 million lobbying Washington – a great return on investment if they get to keep Washington from enforcing regulations, antitrust laws, hold back oversight. That’s not how America is supposed to work. Corporate power… and billionaire power, all those who make their voices heard through money. They fund the think tanks that come to, predetermined conclusions, the public relations firms, the soft ads on TV, controlling government, they tilt the playing field over and over against everyone else.”

She reflected that she went to see Trump being sworn in, and realized that with control of the White House and both houses of Congress, the Republicans could have swept away health care and Medicare “by Tuesday.” “But the next day, there was the biggest protest in the history of the world.”

“I want to rein in big tech. That won’t happen by talking inside the Beltway, but in rooms like this.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 2020 Democratic candidate for president at rally in Long Island City, NY © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Asked whether her wealth tax would cause billionaires like Trump to simply move outside the US, she quipped, “That would be a bad thing?” but explained the 2% wealth tax would be on all property where it is held, so a yacht in the Caribbean would be taxed.  More tax treaties mean it can be tracked. The IRS (now underfunded and understaffed) would step up enforcement. Even with a 15% cheat factor, you still get nearly $3 trillion in revenue. As for moving and renouncing US citizenship to avoid the tax? There would be a 40% exit penalty.

“You built your fortune here, you owe something to the American people.”

Asked about addressing homelessness and the lack of affordable housing, Warren said, “It’s a matter of values. In the richest country in the history of the world, people shouldn’t be sleeping in the street. I have a plan, a housing plan, but the first step is to diagnose the problem: Why has the cost of housing gone up? Wages, adjusted for inflation for four decades are flat, but housing costs have risen by two-thirds. That puts a squeeze on families.”

She said that over the years, government has withdrawn investment in housing, while private developers have build the more profitable mcmansions and luxury high rises. “There’s been an increase in housing at the top but no increase for middle class and down. The federal government is not making investment in housing for poor, working poor and middle class. Meanwhile, across America, the housing stock has deteriorated, shrinking in size, but the population is expanding, so people are paying more and more for less and less.

“The answer: build more housing. I want to build 3.2 million new housing units all across the country. That would decrease rents by 10%. I want more housing for purchase, so families can build equity over time.

“Housing is how working families have built wealth generation after generation – paying off the mortgage, and living on Social Security, grandma can live with the family, the home passes on wealth to the next generation.

“It is no surprise that for decades, from the 1930s, federal government invested in subsidized housing for white people, but discriminated against blacks. Red lined areas where federal government would block mortgages, so that generation after generation [was deprived of home ownership to build wealth]. In 1960, housing discrimination was legal, while the federal government subsidized whites and discriminated against black neighborhoods. Then, the gap between white and black home ownership was 27 points.

“Then civil rights made housing, voting discrimination illegal, and we see black middle class recover.

“But then the big banks came along – looked to black, brown home owners’ equity. They targeted black and brown people for the nastiest mortgages – Wells Fargo, Bank of America. Greed.

“Today, the gap between white and black home ownership is 30 points. Race matters in America.

“My housing bill has something we haven’t seen anywhere else: in formerly red-lined areas, first time home buyers or those who lost their homes during the housing crash, will get assistance to buy again.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 2020 Democratic candidate for president at rally in Long Island City, NY © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Asked whether she would support ending the filibuster which the Republican minority used to block progressive legislation during the Obama administration, to block his judicial appointments, even the Merrick Garland Supreme Court nomination, she said (not too coyly): “It’s all on the table, baby. I’m on record for filibuster reform. The Republicans used filibuster to block judicial nominees, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Board, the National Labor Relations Board. “Republicans get to do what they want when they’re in power, and when we are, we drink a lot of tea. It’s all on the table.”

“I get that things I’m asking for all are hard – attacking corruption, changing the rules of the economy, democracy. I get that some people earn more or less, but everyone should have an equal  share of democracy.”

People, she said, saved the Consumer Financial Protection Board, which she created after the 2008 financial collapse. “The people saved it, and it’s already forced the biggest banks to return $12 billion to the people they cheated.

“I’m calling for big structural change, but you don’t get what you don’t fight for,” she said, citing the abolitionists, suffragettes, union organizers, the foot soldiers of civil rights, gay rights activists. “They were all told, ‘it’s too hard, give up now, and yet, every one of them stayed, fought, organized, persisted [she said to big cheers], and changed. This is our moment to change.

“Dream big, fight hard, and let’s win.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 2020 Democratic candidate for president at rally in Long Island City, NY © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In an already crowded field of candidates – even the progressive faction – Warren is the only one who has clearly spelled out policy proposals and the underlying rationale, the powerful statistics of growing inequality, that she has studied and worked to change for years to level the playing field, “make government work for you”: campaign finance reform and government reform; housing; tax reform.

 And in this venue, it was fascinating to see how she could be so factual, so academic, but so enthusiastic  and personable, her audience asked for more detail about how she would address the critical shortfall  in affordable housing, even taking her by surprise.

The evening was organized a little like a townhall, with Warren moving freely about a stage in front of a giant American flag, taking questions, and then at the end, offering to stay as long as necessary so anyone who wanted to take a photo with her could get their chance.

See: Elizabeth Warren Releases Plan to Rein in Big Tech, Giant Corporations

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