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NYS Accepts Ventilators from China, Oregon; expands testing; will Graduate Med Students Early to Fight COVID-19 With Apex Still More Than Week Away

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo at coronavirus press briefing: “We also have to be smarter from what we went through. How do you make the economy more resilient? What happens when something like this happens again? And something like this will happen again.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with 10,841 additional cases, bringing the statewide total to 113,704 and the apex still a week or more away, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that 1,000 ventilators have been donated to New York by the Joseph and Clara Tsai Foundation. The Joseph and Clara Tsai Foundation and the Jack Ma Foundation have also donated one million surgical masks, one million KN95 masks and more than 100,000 pairs of goggles to the state. The Chinese government and Ambassador Huang Ping, Chinese Consul General, have facilitated these donations. The ventilators arrived at JFK Airport today. 

The National Basketball Association is also contributing one million surgical masks for New York’s essential workers in collaboration with the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and China’s New York Consul General Huang Ping. 

Additionally, Oregon Governor Kate Brown has offered to provide New York with 140 ventilators from Oregon’s stockpile. 

Governor Cuomo will also issue an Executive Order allowing medical students that are slated to graduate to begin practicing immediately to help with the state’s surge health care force. To date, 85,000 health professionals, including 22,000 out-of-state individuals, have signed up to volunteer as part of the state’s surge healthcare force during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

“This pandemic has been stressing our nation on every level and we are doing everything in our power to prepare for the fight that will come at the apex,” Governor Cuomo said.”Ventilators remain our greatest challenge, and we have received a generous donation of 1,000 ventilators from the Joseph and Clara Tsai Foundation and the Chinese government, as well as 140 ventilators from Oregon – and these ventilators will save lives. This is a painful, disorienting experience, but we will get through it together and we will all be the better for it.”

Governor Cuomo commented, “Anyway, it all comes back to China. New York has been shopping in China. We’re not really China experts, here. International relations is not what we do on a daily basis. I’ve been to China before when I was HUD secretary, I did a trade mission with China. So, I have a basic understanding, but we went to the Asia Society to help us navigate China. I asked the White House to help us navigate China. I spoke to the ambassador and we got really good news today. That the Chinese government is going to facilitate a donation of 1,000 ventilators that will come in to JFK today. I want to thank Joe Tsai and Clara Tsai and Jack Ma from Alibaba, and the Nets, but I’m not stating a preference, for their donation. That’s going to be very helpful and I want to thank Ambassador Huang very much for his help in making all of this happen because this is a big deal. It’s going to make a significant difference for us.”

About the state of Oregon’s contribution, he said, “The state of Oregon contacted us and is going to send 140 ventilators, which is, I tell you, just astonishing and unexpected. I want to thank Governor Brown, I want to thank all of the people in the state of Oregon for their thoughtfulness. Again, this was unsolicited. But the 140 ventilators will make a difference. I was thinking about it, on behalf of New York and what it means for our – first it was a kind gesture. I know Governor Brown and she is a kind person, but it’s also smart from the point of view of Oregon. Why? Because we’re all in the same battle and the battle is stopping the spread of the virus, right?

“Look at what they did in China. It was in the Wuhan province. First order of business was contain the virus in Wuhan. Why? Because you want to contain the enemy. That’s always the first step. Oregon, we’re dealing with it now, we don’t stop the spread in New York, it continues. And if you look at the projections, Oregon could have a significant problem towards May. Our problem is now. So it’s also smart from Oregon’s self-interest. They see the fire spreading. Stop the fire where it is before it gets to my home. That was the Wuhan province…

“The State of Oregon has lent us 140 ventilators. It was kind, it was smart, stop the virus here. It’s better for the state of Oregon, it’s better for the nation. Their curve comes after ours. We’ll return their 140 ventilators, and there’s never been a discussion, but frankly I know New Yorkers and I know New Yorkers’ generosity. We will turn it double fold, because that’s who we are and that’s what we believe. So, stop the fire in New York, kind, generous, also smart.”

On Wednesday, Governor Cuomo announced that New York-based Regeneron Pharmaceuticals is creating 500,000 test kits for the State at no charge amid a nationwide shortage of test kits and swabs. The first batch of test kits was delivered to the State on Monday and the State will receive an ongoing delivery of 25,000 kits per day. Additionally, Corning has donated 100,000 tubes and provided an additional 500,000 tubes to the State at reduced cost and expedited delivery, and Puritan has sold medical swabs to the State. As of Wednesday, the State has tested 220,880 individuals.

“In this war, we must plan forward for the next battle. Meaning, we have been behind from day one. This virus has been ahead of us from day one. You don’t win a war that way. The next battle is the apex. The next battle is on the top of the mountain. See that curve? You see a curve? I see a mountain. The next battle will happen at the top of that mountain. That’s where it is going to be joined. And that’s where the enemy either overwhelms our healthcare system, or we are able to handle the onslaught of the enemy at the top of that mountain. And that’s what we’re planning for every day.

“But I want to offer you a different perspective that I’m starting to think about and I think we all should start to think about.

“As a society, beyond just this immediate situation, we should start looking forward to understand how this experience is going to change us, or how it should change us, because this is going to be transformative. It is going to be transformative on a personal basis, on a social basis, on a systems basis. We’re never going to be the same again. We’re not going to forget what happened here.

“The fear that we have, the anxiety that we have, that’s not just going to go away. When do we get back to normal? I don’t think we get back to normal. I think we get back, or we get to a new normal. Right? Like we’re seeing in so many facets of society right now. So we will be at a different place.

“Our challenge is to make sure that transformation and that change is positive and not negative. Let’s make sure we’re taking the positive lesson and not the negative lesson…

“We also have to be smarter from what we went through. How do you make the economy more resilient? What happens when something like this happens again? And something like this will happen again. ‘Oh, no, this is a once in a lifetime, never again.’ Something like this will happen again. We’re seeing it in the environment. We’re seeing it with floods, we’re seeing it with hurricanes. Something like this will happen again. You can’t just turn off the economy like a light switch.

“How do governments work together? You can’t figure it out on the fly – what the federal government does, what the state government does, what the local governments do. Figure it out before. Learn the lessons from this. Telemedicine, and tele-education. We have closed the schools. Well why weren’t we ready with a tele-education system? Why weren’t we better with telemedicine? Why didn’t we have the capacity to have that’s lines on people coming in to give the same basic diagnosis and the same basic advice? Why don’t we have medical supplies made in this country? Why are we shopping in china for basic medical supplies? Why don’t we gear our medical research to these types of threats and challenges, which we know are on the horizon? We know these viruses are changing. We know they mutate. Why don’t we get ahead of it?

“You still have to run society. Let’s talk about first responder capacity. We now have first responders who are getting sick, and the workforce is dropping. That was inevitable, right? That was going to happen. What’s the backup to that situation? And let’s talk about societal stability, and engagement at times of crisis. You can’t just tell everyone, ‘go home and lock your doors and sit on your couch and order takeout,’ for the foreseeable future. That’s not who we are. It’s not even a mental health issue. It’s just, it’s a personal health issue. It’s how we relate to one another. We’re not built to be isolated for long periods of time and not have human contact. So how do we deal with that?

“And these are the types of questions that we have to start to think through. But not today. That is the next challenge, I believe. And that is what we’re going to have to think about soon. But for now, one crisis at a time, as they say. And we are planning to handle with the current crisis, preparing for the battle on the mount, which is what we are doing every day. And that’s what we are doing. And not only are we doing it, but we have to succeed at it. You know?

“Government process is very good at saying, ‘well, we’re trying. We’re working on this. We’re doing our best. We’re doing our best.’ Winston Churchill, “it is no use saying we’re doing our best. You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.” Tad harsh goes with that expression, which I think you could say, tad harsh. Handsome, but a tad harsh, but it’s true. And that’s what I say to my team every day. This is beyond best efforts. This is beyond, “I’m working very hard.” We have to get this done. We have succeed. We have to find a way. We have to make it happen, because too much is at stake.”

Finally, the Governor confirmed 10,841 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 113,704 confirmed cases in New York State. Of the 113,704 total individuals who tested positive for the virus, the geographic breakdown is as follows:

CountyTotal PositiveNew Positive
Albany29326
Allegany162
Broome659
Cattaraugus90
Cayuga71
Chautauqua101
Chemung361
Chenango397
Clinton311
Columbia497
Cortland100
Delaware262
Dutchess938129
Erie80888
Essex71
Franklin100
Fulton93
Genesee204
Greene241
Hamilton20
Herkimer184
Jefferson202
Lewis20
Livingston182
Madison744
Monroe51248
Montgomery133
Nassau13,3461,322
Niagara1017
NYC63,3066,147
Oneida809
Onondaga26210
Ontario313
Orange2,741344
Orleans101
Oswego260
Otsego265
Putnam28331
Rensselaer582
Rockland4,872583
Saratoga1410
Schenectady1177
Schoharie101
Schuyler41
Seneca60
St. Lawrence529
Steuben559
Suffolk11,3701,216
Sullivan19325
Tioga70
Tompkins851
Ulster29027
Warren201
Washington161
Wayne300
Westchester13,081730
Wyoming183
Yates10

Cuomo Signs New York State Budget Advancing Progressive Priorities Including Campaign Finance Reform

New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed the 2021 Budget. The budget is balanced, includes no new taxes, continues to phase in tax cuts for the middle class, enacts the strongest Paid Sick Leave program in the nation, and advances other progressive priorities including the legalization of gestational surrogacy. “I understand we’re all consumed with the coronavirus situation but we have to be able to walk and chew gum. We have to move forward at the same time and that’s why passing the budget and these pieces of legislation were important. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Cuomo: “I understand we’re all consumed with the coronavirus situation but we have to be able to walk and chew gum. We have to move forward at the same time and that’s why passing the budget and these pieces of legislation were important. These issues are still important and child vaping, et cetera, surrogacy, these are major issues for people. And they passed last night and congratulations.”

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed the FY 2021 Enacted Budget. The budget is balanced, includes no new taxes, continues to phase in tax cuts for the middle class, enacts the strongest Paid Sick Leave program in the nation, and advances other progressive priorities including the legalization of gestational surrogacy.

This is a transcript of the Governor’s remarks:

State budget passed last night, 3:00 a.m., as you know. The state budget was extraordinary. First, it passed a lot of major policy initiatives that we should all be very proud of: the nation’s first domestic terrorism law. It improved bail reform. It addressed this child vaping scourge going across the nation. We banned fentanyl, a ban against repeat subway sex offenders, campaign finance reform, paid sick leave, middle class tax cut, very aggressive airport construction program and accessible renewable energy sitings.

I understand we’re all consumed with the coronavirus situation but we have to be able to walk and chew gum. We have to move forward at the same time and that’s why passing the budget and these pieces of legislation were important. These issues are still important and child vaping, et cetera, surrogacy, these are major issues for people. And they passed last night and congratulations.

The budget was difficult because the State has no money, and how do you do a budget when you can’t really forecast revenues, and we came up with a somewhat novel budget that actually is calibrated to future revenues or losses. So we really start with an assumption and then what we’re saying is when we see how much revenue the state makes, how fast the economy comes back, what the expenses are, we’ll calibrate accordingly.

We are heavily reliant on the federal aid legislation that gets passed. The federal government has passed a couple of pieces of legislation. They’re planning to pass another piece of legislation. It’s very important that whatever legislation they pass helps state and local governments. When you deprive a state government all you are actually achieving is that that state government has to turn around and not fund the programs that were dependent on that state government. We fund education, health care. I spoke to Speaker Pelosi today. She’s working on the program for the next piece of legislation. She understands fully the need of state government. She understands fully the need of local governments. She understands my position on how New York was shortchanged in the past bill and she said she’s going to do everything she can do to help New York. I’ve worked with the Speaker many times. I’ve known her for 30 years and I believe her and her credibility and her competence is unparalleled, in my opinion. So I’ll be working with the Speaker and the rest of the Congressional delegation going forward. But we need federal assistance. Depending on how much federal assistance we get, will be that calibration of the budget going forward.

2021 MAKING PROGRESS HAPPEN ENACTED BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS

Establishing Paid Sick Leave for Working New Yorkers: To further empower New York’s workers and protect all consumers in the State, the FY 2021 Enacted Budget enacts a paid sick leave program for working New Yorkers. Businesses with five to 99 employees will provide their employees at least five days of job-protected paid sick leave per year and businesses with 100 employees or more will provide at least seven days of paid sick leave per year. Smaller businesses, with four or fewer employees, will guarantee five days of job-protected unpaid sick leave to their employees every year. Small businesses already providing paid sick leave will be able to so.

Legalizing Gestational Surrogacy in New York State: The FY 2021 Enacted Budget legalizes gestational surrogacy in New York State once and for all, helping LGBTQ couples and couples struggling with infertility. The legislation will also establish criteria for surrogacy contracts that provide the strongest protections in the nation for parents and surrogates, ensuring all parties provide informed consent at every step of the process, and will create a Surrogates’ Bill of Rights, which would ensure the unfettered right of surrogates to make their own healthcare decisions, including whether to terminate or continue a pregnancy and that surrogates have access to comprehensive health insurance and independent legal counsel of their choosing, all paid for by the intended parents. The legislation included in the Budget will also create a streamlined process for establishing parenthood when one of the individuals is a non-biological parent, a process known as “second parent adoption.”

Passing the “New York Hate Crime Anti-Terrorism Act”:  The FY 20201 Budget establishes a “domestic act of terrorism motivated by hate” crime as a new A-1 class felony punishable by up to life in prison without parole.

Closing the Out-of-State Gun Loophole: The FY 2021 Enacted Budget includes legislation to prohibit individuals from obtaining a gun license who commit serious offenses out-of-state that would disqualify them from obtaining a gun license if committed in New York. This will provide greater consistency in New York’s licensing scheme and ensure individuals who are prohibited from purchasing a firearm are not able to do so. The Enacted Budget also includes legislation to require all state and local law enforcement agencies in the state to opt in to the ATF’s crime gun trace data sharing program and submit crime guns recovered through the ATF’s eTrace system. Additionally, the Enacted Budget includes legislation to amend the Mental Hygiene Law to allow New York to share reports of individuals who are a danger to themselves or others with other states.

Housing and Services for People who are Homeless, Including Those with Mental Illness: New York’s homeless community and those with mental illness are among the hardest populations to help. The FY 2021 Enacted Budget includes an aggressive strategy and additional support to provide housing and services to these vulnerable populations.

Enact a Comprehensive Tobacco Control Policy. Governor Cuomo has taken unprecedented steps to ensure the health and safety of all New Yorkers by combatting the use of harmful tobacco and nicotine products. The Enacted Budget prohibits the sale or distribution of e-cigarettes or vapor products that have a characterizing flavor unless approved as part of an FDA pre-market approval; prohibits the sale of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, in all pharmacies; restricts the delivery of e-liquid products only to NYS-licensed vapor retailers; restricts the public display of tobacco and vapor products near schools; requires manufacturers of vapor products to disclose to the DOH Commissioner and the public, information regarding the ingredients, by-products, or contaminants in vapor products, whether intentional or unintentionally added; bans certain carrier oils if they are determined to be harmful; bans coupons and manufacturer discounts and displays in shops; and increases penalties for illegally selling tobacco products to minors.

Prescription Drugs: The FY 2021 Enacted Budget includes a three-part plan to lower prescription drug costs for all New Yorkers. The Budget caps insulin co-payments at $100 per month for insured patients to help address the rising cost of insulin that has resulted in diabetes patients rationing, skipping doses and not filling prescriptions. Finally, the Enacted Budget establishes a commission of experts to study the feasibility and benefits of a Canadian drug importation program and submit a plan to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for review.

Banning the “Pink Tax”: The FY 2021 Enacted Budget prohibits gender-based pricing discrimination for substantially similar or like kind goods and services. The legislation would require certain service providers to provide price lists for standard services upon request and notice that gender-based price discrimination is prohibited under state law. Businesses that violate the law would be subject to civil penalties.

Authorized the Creation of a $3 Billion Restore Mother Nature Bond Act: The Budget authorizes the creation of a Bond Act to fund critical environmental restoration and climate mitigation projects in every corner of the state to ensure New York is able to adapt to the intensifying impacts of climate change, and reduce emissions, while creating jobs and local economic development. As part of the larger Restore Mother Nature Initiative, the Bond Act will be a key source of funding for projects focused on reducing flood risk, investing in resilient infrastructure, restoring freshwater and tidal wetlands, preserving open space, conserving forest areas, and reducing pollution from agricultural and storm water runoff. It will also fund up to $700 million in projects to fight climate change, including green buildings. It also aims to spend 35 percent of the funds on projects to benefit underserved areas of the state. The Budget Director will assess the state’s finances and the economic outlook later this year and make a determination as to whether to move forward with the Bond Act.

Permanently Banning Hydrofracking: The Enacted Budget codifies Governor Cuomo’s ban on the Department of Environmental Conservation approving permits that would authorize an applicant to drill, deepen, plug back or convert wells that use high-volume hydraulic fracturing as a means to complete or recomplete a well. In addition, it places a moratorium on future gelled propane hydrofracking applications until the Department can conduct an analysis of the impacts of this completion method. This will protect the health of New Yorkers and ensuring permanently that our environment is not harmed by this practice.

Continuing Middle Class Tax Cuts: This year’s Enacted Budget continues to lower Personal Income Tax rates for middle-class New Yorkers. In 2020, the third year of the multi-year tax cuts enacted in 2016, income tax rates have been lowered from 6.85 percent to 6.09 percent for taxpayers in the $43,000-$161,550 income bracket, and to 6.41 percent in the $161,550-$323,200 income bracket. These cuts are expected to save 4.7 million New Yorkers over $1.8 billion this year. Furthermore, income tax rates will continue to drop to 5.5 percent for taxpayers in the $27,900-$161,550 tax bracket and 6 percent in the $161,550-$323,200 bracket. When the cuts are fully phased in, middle class taxpayers will have received an income tax rate cut up to 20 percent, amounting to a projected $4.2 billion in annual savings for six million filers by 2025. As the new rates phase in, they will be the State’s lowest middle-class tax rates in more than 70 years.

Increasing and Modernizing Emergency Response Capacity: Over 60 percent of New York counties have been flooded twice in the past 10 years. We must be ready to handle these increasing, life-threatening, emergency situations. It is a new and growing challenge for our state operations. The FY 2021 Enacted Budget sustains $12 million in capital funding to increase and update the State’s emergency response capacity so our brave women and men have the right equipment to do their jobs.

Addressing Veteran and Law Enforcement Suicides: The FY 2021 Enacted Budget invests $1 million to partner with organizations to help veterans, law enforcement and first responders with suicide prevention efforts. The Budget also directs state agencies to expand suicide prevention strategies for veterans, law enforcement, correctional officers and first responders, including a new campaign by the Office of Mental Health to reduce the stigma of mental illness. Additionally, the State will convene a panel of stakeholders and experts at its annual Suicide Prevention Conference to develop and implement strategies for preventing suicide among these special populations.

Adding E Pluribus Unum to the State Coat of Arms: Our founding fathers said clearly that the idea of unity was the key to America’s future. In 1782, on the first seal of the United States, they said it in three simple words – E pluribus unum, out of many one. This federal government and our nation seem to have forgotten that essential American principle. In this time of turmoil, New York State will remind the nation of who we are by adding E pluribus unum to the State’s coat of arms as part of the FY 2021 Enacted Budget, proclaiming at this ugly time the simple truth that without unity we are nothing.

Highlights of the FY 2021 Enacted Budget are available here.

Bernie Sanders Releases Priorities for Next Coronavirus Stimulus Package: Calls for ‘Boldest Legislation Ever Written in Modern History’

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Friday released a list of priorities to ensure the next coronavirus legislation passed by Congress is the boldest legislation in history, matches the scale of the crisis, saves lives and ensures working Americans are not left behind. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.

BURLINGTON, Vt. – Sen. Bernie Sanders on Friday released a list of priorities to ensure the next coronavirus legislation passed by Congress is the boldest legislation in history, matches the scale of the crisis, saves lives and ensures working Americans are not left behind.  

“We are in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic that could lead to the death of hundreds of thousands of Americans and infect millions of others, and we are entering an economic downturn that could be worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s.” Sanders said. “In this unprecedented moment in modern American history, it is imperative that we respond in an unprecedented way. That means that Congress must pass, in the very near future, the boldest piece of legislation ever written in modern history. Today, I am outlining a set of six core provisions that must be included in new Congressional legislation to support working people during this horrific crisis.” 

Sanders’ priorities include:

Keep workers on payroll – make sure that every worker in America continues to receive their paycheck, retroactive to the beginning of the crisis. An important precedent was set by keeping airline workers on payroll in the last bill

Use Medicare to make sure no one has to pay for health care during the crisis

A $2,000 monthly emergency payment to every person in the country until the crisis has passed

The forceful use of the Defense Production Act to direct the production of all of the personnel protective equipment, ventilators and other medical supplies

Hazard pay for workers on the frontlines of the emergency

$600 billion in direct fiscal aid to states and cities

Freezing monthly rent and mortgage payments

Emergency food for millions of families who would otherwise go hungry

In a mailing to supporters, Sanders described his priorities in more detail:

Our country is now facing its worst crisis in modern history. We are in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic that could lead to the death of hundreds of thousands of Americans and infect millions of others, and we are entering an economic downturn that could be worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Last week, 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment. This week that number doubled to 6.6 million claims — ten times higher than any other week on record. It is certain that well over 10 million people have lost their jobs — more than in the Wall Street crash of 2008.

In this unprecedented moment in modern American history, it is imperative that we respond in an unprecedented way. And that means that Congress must pass, in the very near future, the boldest piece of legislation ever written in modern history.

There are many, many issues that must be addressed in our response to this pandemic, and working together, we will make sure they are addressed.

1. Addressing the Employment Crisis and Providing Immediate Financial Relief

There is little doubt in my mind that we are facing an economic crisis that could be even worse than the Great Depression. The St. Louis Federal Reserve has projected that 47 million more people may become unemployed by the end of June, with unemployment reaching 32 percent. In my view, we must make sure that every worker in America continues to receive their paycheck during this crisis and we must provide immediate financial relief to everyone in this country.

An important precedent for that approach was taken in the recent stimulus package in which grants were provided to the airlines for the sole purpose of maintaining the paychecks and benefits of some 2 million workers in that industry through September 30. We must expand that program to cover every worker in America and we must make it retroactive to the beginning of this crisis. This is not a radical idea. Other countries, such as the UK, Norway, Denmark, France, and others have all come up with similar approaches to sustain their economy and prevent workers from losing their jobs.

Our primary goal during this crisis must be to prevent the disintegration of the American economy. It will be much easier and less expensive to prevent the collapse of the economy than trying to put it back together after it collapses.

To do this, we must also begin monthly payments of $2,000 for every man, woman, and child in our country, and guarantee paid family leave throughout this crisis so that people who are sick do not face the choice of infecting others or losing their job.

2. We Must Guarantee Health Care to All

Let’s be clear: we were facing a catastrophic health care crisis before the pandemic, and now that crisis has become much, much worse. Already, 87 million people are uninsured or underinsured. Layoffs will mean tens of millions of people more will lose their current insurance — which will result in countless deaths and bankruptcies. Already in the last two weeks, an estimated 3.5 million people have lost their employer-sponsored insurance.

And as the pandemic grows, we are seeing more and more reports of people who have delayed treatment due to concerns about cost. In this pandemic, uninsurance will lead to deaths and more COVID-19 transmissions.

Therefore, during this crisis, Medicare must be empowered to pay all of the deductibles, co-payments and out-of-pocket healthcare expenses for the uninsured and the underinsured. No one in America who is sick, regardless of immigration status, should be afraid to seek the medical treatment they need during this national pandemic. Let me be clear: I am not proposing that we pass Medicare for All in this moment. That fight continues into the future. But, for the moment, we must act boldly to make sure everyone can get the health care they need in the coming months.

3. Use the Defense Production Act to Produce the Equipment and Testing We Need

Unbelievably, in the United States right now, doctors and nurses are unnecessarily putting their lives on the line treating people suffering from the coronavirus because they lack personal protective equipment like masks, gloves, and surgical gowns. The CDC has directed health professionals to use homemade gear like bandanas or scarves and some workers at the VA are being told to re-use one surgical mask for a week at a time. HHS estimated that our country needs 3.5 billion masks in response to this crisis.

President Trump has utilized the Defense Production Act thousands of times for the military and for enforcement of his immigration policies, yet he has resisted using its power to save lives during the pandemic. That is unacceptable. We must immediately and forcefully use the Defense Production Act to direct the production of all of the personal protective equipment, ventilators and other medical supplies needed.

We must also utilize this power to produce antibody tests so we can begin figuring out who has already contracted the virus and has developed some immunity to COVID-19.

In addition, OSHA must adopt a strong emergency standard to protect health care workers, patients, and the public during this crisis. We must crack down aggressively on price gougers and hoarders, and use any means necessary to secure supplies.

4. Make Sure No One Goes Hungry

Even before this crisis hit, one in every seven kids in America was going hungry and nearly 5.5 million seniors in our country struggled with hunger. Already in this crisis we see lines at food banks and growing concern that our most vulnerable communities and those recently unemployed may struggle to feed their families.

As communities face record levels of food insecurity, we must increase SNAP benefits, expand the WIC program for pregnant mothers, infants, and children, double funding for the Emergency Food Program (TEFAP) to ensure food banks have food to distribute, and expand Meals on Wheels and School Meals programs. When necessary, we must also develop new approaches to deliver food to vulnerable populations — including door-to-door drop offs.

5. Provide Emergency Aid to States and Cities

Even as state and local employees like police officers, firefighters and paramedics work on the front lines of this pandemic, states and cities that pay their salaries are facing enormous budgetary pressures.

Congress must provide $600 billion in direct fiscal aid to states and cities to ensure they have the personnel and funding necessary to respond to this crisis. In addition, the Federal Reserve must establish programs to provide direct fiscal support and budgetary relief to states and municipalities.

6. Suspend Monthly Payments

Even before this crisis, half of the people in our country were living paycheck to paycheck. In America today, over 18 million families are paying more than 50 percent of their income on housing. Now, with growing unemployment, families are facing financial ruin if we do not act quickly and boldly.

That’s why we must suspend monthly expenses like rent, mortgages, medical debt and consumer debt collection for 4 months. We must cancel all student loan payments for the duration of this crisis, and place an immediate moratorium on evictions, foreclosures, and utility shut-offs.

Brothers and sisters: In this unprecedented moment in our history it is easy to feel like we are alone, and that everyone must fend for themselves. But that would be a mistake and a terrible tragedy. Now, more than any other moment in our lives, we must remember that we are all in this together — that when one of us gets sick, many more may get sick. And when my neighbor loses their job, I may lose my job as well.

Further, we cannot wait until our economy collapses to act. It will be far easier and less expensive to act now, in a very bold way, than to try to rebuild our country later.

If we work together and unite behind these basic principles of economic and health justice, I am confident that we will not only get through this unprecedented crisis together but that we will lay the groundwork for a better and more just America in the future.

But today, I am outlining a set of six core provisions that must be included in the next legislation Congress passes to support working people in this country during this horrific crisis. Please read them and add your name to say that you agree:

(Read the priorities here.)

The proposal put forward by Sanders today is backed by several progressive groups.  

“Half of Veterans are over age 65, and we disproportionately suffer from preexisting conditions and economic challenges which make the COVID-19 pandemic particularly devastating for our community,” Common Defense Director Alex McCoy said. “Meanwhile, countless workers at the Department of Veterans Affairs are making extraordinary sacrifices to save lives, while going without sufficient protective equipment. Senator Sanders’ plan for Phase 4 of COVID-19 response takes the bold steps which are absolutely essential to saving countless lives and preventing immeasurable economic hardship. We must immediately implement his proposals to provide Americans with a financial lifeline, and pivot our industrial capacity to produce sufficient supplies. We applaud Senator Sanders for demonstrating real leadership in this crisis and centering the tangible needs of ordinary people, while Donald Trump downplays the threat and weaponizes aid to give favors to his political allies and bail-outs to his favorite corporate CEOs.”

“Senator Sanders’ economic rescue principles speak to the bold, fast action needed to protect and support people, and prevent corporations from consolidating economic and political power amidst a crisis,” People’s Action Director George Goehl said. “We urge him to build on this strong framework by including a Rent Zero policy in the short term: no rent or mortgage payments during the crisis, no late fees, and no debts from housing obligations during the crisis.”

“Bernie’s plan for the fourth phase of a federal legislative response centers people, not corporations. It is about helping us survive with the cash assistance, healthcare, nutrition, worker safety we need, and relief from monthly payments we cannot make. It speaks to the needs of frontline workers who are battling the pandemic and making it possible for the rest of us to shelter in place, said Ana Maria Archila, Co-Director of Center For Popular Democracy Action. “Bernie is uniquely courageous in demanding and lifting up the inclusion of immigrants, recognizing that low-income communities of color will bear the worst of this crisis. His plan provides urgent and direct relief to those most vulnerable — addressing the gaps left by previous relief bills and creating a foundation for long-lasting recovery.” 

“Governments all around the world are keeping people employed and on payroll by covering salaries if businesses commit to not cutting wages or laying people off,” Justice Democrats Executive Director Alexandra Rojas said. “Senator Sanders is leading the fight to bring that common sense model to our country when so many workers and small business owners are confronting a complicated Rube Goldberg machine just to get a little relief.”

“This moment of crisis exemplifies the detrimental impact failing to account for the needs and extend protections to the most vulnerable has on the health of all within our communities, said Javier H. Valdés, Co-Director of Make the Road Action. “Only through a comprehensive response that covers the immediate and future healthcare, economic and maintenance needs of all members of our society can we prevent greater loss of life and a deeper economic downturn. Make the Road will continue to fight alongside Senator Sanders to ensure the next phase of COVID-19 legislative response includes these provisions and an eye towards justice.” 

“The current government response has left behind some of our most vulnerable neighbors including the homeless, the undocumented, the unbanked, and those without internet connections, said Marisa Franco, Founder and Director of Mijente. “The priorities outlined by Senators Sanders for the next Coronavirus Stimulus Package are what our country needs to ensure everyone in our community can access the financial and medical support needed to withstand this crisis. We stand with Senator Sanders in demanding a $2,000 monthly emergency payment, emergency food, and Medicare to every person in our country regardless of their housing situation, immigration status or whether they have a bank account or internet connection.” 

Biden Offers “Make It Work” Checklist for Implementation and Oversight of the CARES Act

Joe Biden released a “Make It Work” checklist to provide the federal government with specific recommendations surrounding the implementation and oversight of the CARES Act, the recent stimulus package passed by Congress to ensure the economic relief and recovery effort works for families, workers, and small businesses. The checklist builds on Biden’s plan to combat coronavirus (COVID-19) released on March 12 and his emergency action plan for the economy released on March 26. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Absolutely none of the plans to mitigate against the twin crises posed by the coronavirus pandemic on Americans’ healthcare and the nation’s economy have come from Trump, but rather he has played catch up finally responding to the pleas and shaming from Congressional Democrats, who turned the trillion dollar slush fund for corporations into a $2.2 trillion relief bill, and from Governors and Mayors desperate for life-saving medical equipment and supplies. But his administration has proved woefully inadequate to implement. The $350 billion earmarked to rescue small businesses that is supposed to go into effect has no actual means; the billions in relief checks that are supposed to go to individuals are bogged down by a dysfunctional administration. While Trump has used the coronavirus pandemic to attack Democrats, and take advantage of the limited ability of Democratic candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders to campaign by turning briefings into rallies and extort praise and adulation from desperate government officials, Biden has sought to point to the contrast his leadership would offer.

Joe Biden released a “Make It Work” checklist to provide the federal government with specific recommendations surrounding the implementation and oversight of the CARES Act, the recent stimulus package passed by Congress to ensure the economic relief and recovery effort works for families, workers, and small businesses. (Recall Trump’s signing statement which basically obviated the oversight the Democrats put into the Act.) The checklist builds on Biden’s plan to combat coronavirus (COVID-19) released on March 12 and his emergency action plan for the economy released on March 26. This is from the Biden campaign –Karen Rubin, news-photos-features.com.

Implementation and Oversight of the CARES Act:
The Biden “Make It Work” Checklist

1. Making Americans who lose their jobs financially whole by ensuring that they get their unemployment insurance on time and in full. The CARES Act provides for the equivalent of full wage replacement for average American wage-earners. With millions of Americans making claims for lost jobs in a single week – nearly five times the previous record – getting workers their wage replacement checks fast has never been more important. Let’s be clear: even with new funds from the CARES Act, if the White House does not do everything in its power to help all of our states swiftly implement these new unemployment (UI) benefits, states will be even more overwhelmed. Our states will need help with staffing capacity, technology solutions, training for new claims processors, and best practices from other jurisdictions. This must happen immediately – before the crush of UI claims becomes even more overwhelming. Americans desperate for relief to pay the rent and keep food on the tables for their children will judge states’ performance on the number of UI claims successfully processed, the number of Americans paid as quickly as possible, and how quickly they receive relief – beginning this week. Biden would:

Establish a UI delivery team to help states solve any implementation problems they face. He would authorize that team to provide funds beyond the $1 billion appropriated to states to add staffing and server capacity.

Apply a financial version of the Defense Production Act to ensure that banks that have contracts with states deliver unemployment benefit payments to laid-off workers do so in a timely manner, and that they offer prompt electronic payment options.

Issue clear guidance about the broadest possible eligibility and communicate that guidance effectively so that all Americans understand what benefits they are entitled to.

Make clear that gig workers can get partial benefits when they are still working if their compensation and hours have been significantly reduced.

Work with Congress to extend the provisions for the duration of the crisis. Four months is not enough to provide families the aid they need throughout this economic crisis.

2. Get direct cash relief as quickly as possible to as many Americans as possible. The CARES Act provides for $1,200 per person and $500 per child in cash relief for millions of  working families. Biden would prioritize getting Americans the cash relief they are owed and making it easy to access the relief. The Trump administration is already failing at this by causing needless worry for millions of seniors and people with disabilities. Biden would do so by:

Delivering the payments electronically whenever possible and delivering pre-paid debit cards to those who don’t have bank accounts. Payments should not be delayed just so that President Trump can put his signature on a physical check.

Making payments automatic for millions who haven’t filed a tax return based on information the government already has– and streamlining filing for others. The Trump Administration has needlessly confused millions by first announcing that Social Security recipients and people with disabilities would have to file a tax return to receive their stimulus rebate, before reversing themselves. The reversal is welcome. The CARES Act clearly allows the Treasury Department to send cash relief payments automatically to millions of seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, and others without burdening them with new paperwork during a pandemic. Treasury can send these payments using information that the Social Security Administration, the Veterans Administration, and other agencies already possess to get payments to these people. From the start, Biden would have announced an automatic, clear, and simple process of getting stimulus payments to these individuals. And he would extend these same automatic payments to others, like veterans, who still would not get automatic payments under the Administration’s plan. For those who do need to file a new form, Biden would establish an immediate, streamlined cash relief application process to make sure the neediest Americans are being taken care of. There is no reason that most of these Americans cannot be paid within days of filing this paperwork with the right focus, the right process, and the right prioritization.

Expanding the CARES Act relief to dependents left out of the legislation. Democrats fought and won cash relief for most working families, but the legislation left out relief for dependents aged 17 and older, whether a high school student or an older relative living with a family. That is a huge hole in support for working families. As he pushes for relief to extend as long as is needed to pull us through this crisis, Biden would immediately ask Congress to correct this and give these families the support they deserve.

Preparing for additional payments. As the crisis continues, Biden would provide additional cash payments as necessary.

3. Keep as many people on payroll as possible by working with all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands to make maximum use of “work-sharing” and “short-time compensation” programs. The Obama-Biden administration expanded an innovative form of “employment insurance,” called “work-sharing” or “short-time compensation.” Under these programs, when a business keeps its workers on payroll – but with reduced hours – federally-backed insurance will compensate those workers to make up for their reduced hours. Expanding short-time compensation has never been more important than today, when keeping workers on payrolls is an urgent national economic priority. Before this crisis, more than 20 states didn’t have programs to allow for short-time compensation, and they were often underutilized even in the states that did. The CARES Act provides for additional federal financing to expand work-sharing. To make that financing work, Biden would:

Direct the Department of Labor to ensure these programs are offered in 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

Provide resources and guidance for states to create a simple application for small businesses, as well as larger businesses, to take advantage of work-sharing. 

Direct the Department of Labor to issue guidance applying the $600 per week emergency boost in unemployment insurance under the CARES Act to work-sharing programs.

Work with Congress to allow, on an emergency basis, work-sharing programs to pay benefits when hours are reduced dramatically, but employees are still working part-time. 

4. Take the necessary steps to ensure that all small businesses can access relief fast, not just those with the right connections. The CARES Act includes a small business program to provide loans and funds to help small businesses survive this storm and keep their workers on their payroll. It also provides the same relief to small nonprofits, many of whom are needed more than ever in a national crisis. However, there is no assurance that all eligible small businesses will receive support — and the program relies on private banks’ willingness and ability to swiftly provide these government-backed loans. An approach that simply assumes major banks will do this in a fair, efficient, and comprehensive way is likely to result in too few loans being made, too slowly, and mostly to larger and more well-resourced businesses with established relationships and connections. To get loans out quickly to the millions of qualifying Main Street small businesses that need relief — especially in rural and urban communities and those owned by women and minorities — we need a network of financial institutions committed to and capable of efficiently extending credit to every small business and nonprofit in need of support. The rules must be clear and simple to give every eligible small business the confidence that relief is coming, and that they can plan for the future with that relief in mind. There are millions of struggling businesses that do not have time to wait. Success cannot be judged by incremental progress or splashy announcements – we need an effort to direct hundreds of thousands of loans to businesses, beginning this week. For Biden, this would be designated as a vital national priority. Immediately, he would:

Apply a financial version of the Defense Production Act, to make all banks prioritize the swift processing of small business loans, putting them at the front of the line as a national priority. Banks would have to process loan applications within a few working days from all small businesses seeking relief, including the mom-and-pop shops that need help the most and are frequently pushed to the back of the line and those in low-income and traditionally underbanked geographies.

Cut red tape: immediately use the authority in the CARES Act to set simple and clear eligibility criteria; a hyper-streamlined application process; and an expedited process for the smallest of businesses who are most likely to be left out.

Explore creative solutions like working with payroll processing companies to speed up disbursement, including a one-click process for accessing funds.

Produce a weekly dashboard to show which small businesses are accessing loans – to make sure that the program isn’t leaving out communities, minority- and women-owned businesses, or the smallest businesses – and whether they are maintaining payroll.

Make sure that the small business loan program is connected with the work-sharing strategy so that these initiatives are providing the maximum support towards keeping workers on payroll.

Halt evictions and foreclosures of small businesses, and work to provide forbearance on rent and mortgages to provide a lifeline as loans are being processed

Immediately reengage Congress to allow for small business loans that can keep workers on the payroll for far longer than eight weeks.

Immediately seek bipartisan agreement that additional resources will be available as needed to cover loans to eligible small businesses and nonprofits, so that there is not a race to exhaust the $350 billion that leaves some of the most deserving family and smaller-businesses out in the cold because they were not as well-connected or served well by banks.

5. Set clear rules on any industry support – they must help workers and communities, not bail out shareholders or financial industry creditors. The CARES Act gives the Treasury Secretary authority to provide financial assistance directly to large companies. While Democrats secured important protections against stock buybacks and executive compensation, Biden would set a higher bar to make sure that any industry bailout package helps workers and communities where the company operates – not the existing shareholders or creditors of some of the largest companies in the country. He would require that, in return for any financial assistance, large companies accept further conditions along the lines outlined by Senators Brown and Warren, including that they: 

Demonstrate they are prepared to actively participate in the public health effort, including production, distribution, and logistics capacity.

Agree to maintain payrolls at reasonable levels, for both full-time employees and contractors.

Allow taxpayers to share in the upside of any recovery, as was practiced during the last downturn, while ensuring existing shareholders and creditors share in any losses.

Agree to worker representation on their Board of Directors.

Commit to not transfer jobs out of the United States.

6. Establish strong oversight and transparency to police abuse and misappropriation by the Administration and the corporations who receive funds. In addition to enforcing strict conditions, Biden would ensure there are no sweetheart deals, no special favors, and no slush fund, and that corporations follow through on their hard commitments. This is a major concern given the track record of the Trump administration. In the CARES Act, Congress established a Special Inspector General to police the $500 billion in funding for large corporations and to make sure it is going to the right places for the right reasons. But last week, Trump’s White House announced that it intends to restrict the work of the Special Inspector General, in defiance of the bipartisan legislation and the will of the American people to have strong transparency and oversight. Biden would provide full freedom to the Special Inspector General to conduct oversight, meet regularly with him or her, and ensure he or she had all the resources required for effective oversight. That is what he did with the Inspector General under the Recovery Act, and the result was less than 0.2% fraud . 

7. Move much-needed funds for public health and emergency medical needs to hospitals, and local, state, and tribal governments. The CARES Act includes critical provisions to meet the needs of this public health emergency, including funding for cash-strapped hospitals. Biden would focus on getting those funds out the door, with a special focus on rural hospitals that were already financially constrained before COVID-19. He would also provide additional reimbursement plus-ups for Medicare providers who are risking their lives to treat patients. Finally, Biden would ensure that hospitals are not cutting the pay of doctors and nurses during this emergency, as some reports have indicated. The allocation of federal dollars should be conditioned on an explicit commitment to not cut back on wages or benefits of hospital-based health care workers. As funds are disbursed, Biden would work to ensure the administration is tracking what else hospitals need so that we can ensure that we incorporate that into future legislation and budgets. 

8. Ensure equitable allocation of recovery funds. There is a growing body of evidence that recovery funding after crises actually widens pre-existing racial disparities. For example, researchers at Rice University and the University of Pittsburgh found that “whites accumulate more wealth after natural disasters while residents of color accumulate less.” Federal leadership will be required to ensure that recovery from the pandemic helps everyone hurt in the crisis in a fair and equitable way, with a special focus on populations that have historically been left out or left behind. Jurisdictions that receive funding should be required to develop and report on metrics for addressing potential racial disparities, and the SBA and Treasury should similarly track lending to ensure that minority business owners – who have traditionally faced unequal access to credit and capital – are not treated unfairly.  And, the Trump Administration should suspend their public charge rule. Allowing immigration officials to make an individual’s ability to receive a visa or gain permanent residency contingent on their use of government services such as SNAP benefits or Medicaid, their household income, and other discriminatory criteria not only undermines America’s character as land of opportunity that is open and welcoming to all, but also may stop immigrants from getting help during this pandemic and pose broader issues for public health.

9. Establish a CARES Act Implementation Office with responsibility for ensuring (a) people understand and can effectively access all the relief to which they are entitled; and (b) states have all the capacities they need to get the money out as fast as possible. The CARES Act is hundreds of pages long. Big businesses have armies of lawyers to help them figure it out. But many small businesses and families won’t know what’s available to them like: who qualifies for mortgage forbearance? What do small businesses need to qualify not just for loans but for loan forgiveness? Biden would establish a team that would put together a plain-language, comprehensive guide to the benefits in the bill and who they are meant for — and a strategy to communicate to the American people. The Office would set up both online- and telephone-based customer service to answer questions. It would work with community leaders across the country who are on the front lines of this crisis. And, Biden would dedicate staff to every single state as action officers to assist states in accessing the CARES Act funds and disbursing them efficiently. 

10. Start working on the Fourth Package now. We already know that more will have to be done; potentially a massive amount more. Biden wouldn’t wait. He would bring together the leaders of Congress to design a fourth package that accomplishes three things: (a) fixes things that aren’t working in CARES Act implementation and fills in gaps that become apparent; (b) takes care of the people the CARES Act left out; and (c) does whatever it takes, spends whatever it takes, to help the American people and the American economy emerge from the other side of this stronger. He would also make sure the new package automatically extends relief as long as is needed to support families and communities through this crisis. In addition to provisions mentioned above, Biden would ask Congress to include in new legislation:

Any further resources and authority required to break down barriers to implementation, whether on small business, or unemployment insurance, or short-time compensation.

Additional provisions to meet needs not fully covered in the CARES Act, including:

Additional funds for states. As this crisis unfolds, states are going to get crushed under the weight of falling revenues combined with far higher emergency financial burdens. Cops and firefighters and teachers are going to be at risk of losing pay. Biden would make sure the federal government provides the relief that communities on the front lines need to put their full resources behind the public health response without forcing painful and damaging cuts to public services, education, and public safety, and to deal with extraordinary economic circumstances like helping with missed rent and other payments for those facing significant hardship.

Cost-free treatment for COVID-19, regardless of immigration status.

Student debt forgiveness through the duration of the crisis, with a minimum of $10,000.

Boosts to Social Security by $200 per month for seniors and persons with disabilities.

Paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave for every worker, and making these benefits permanent.

An increase in SNAP benefits by 15 percent during the deepening recession, and temporarily provide low-income families with about $100 per month in extra nutritional support.

A rent freeze for qualifying individuals for the duration of the crisis

A halt to foreclosures and evictions as people get on their feet.

Key long-term investments, stronger public health systems, and automatic stabilizers so that in future crises the social safety net is there for Americans who need it.

Biden Challenges Trump Attempts to Spin Historic Failure to Combat Coronavirus

Vice President Joe Biden is directly challenging Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic accelerating across the United States and world that has produced twin crises in healthcare and the economy, in the form of questions that should be posed at the White House briefings that have become campaign rallies for Trump’s election. (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Vice President Joe Biden is directly challenging Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic accelerating across the United States and world that has produced twin crises in healthcare and the economy, in the form of questions that should be posed at the White House briefings that have become campaign rallies for Trump’s election. Instead of a “whole of government” marshaling of forces to combat the virus, Trump’s “whole of government” is one big political enterprise, while Trump uses that time at the bully pulpit to attack Democrats, particularly Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and call the impeachment yet another “hoax” instead of organizing his administration to make sure all the states and cities have the life-saving equipment and staff needed to save lives, that the nation unites together to curtail social contact, and to make sure businesses and families to have the financial resources necessary to make it through. Instead, Trump has denied re-opening enrollment to Obamacare for those who don’t have health insurance, and his administration has no clue how to actually implement the $2.2 trillion in “relief” money to families and businesses.  This is from the Biden campaign: –Karen Rubin, news-photos-features.com.

As Trump Attempts to Spin Away His Historic Failure to Combat the Coronavirus, Here Are Questions He Needs to Answer at Today’s Press Conference


1.  Why are you refusing to allow Americans who desperately need health insurance in the middle of a pandemic access to the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace? 
 
The Trump administration is refusing to re-open the federal ACA marketplace’s enrollment period — jeopardizing Americans’ access to health insurance in the midst of a global pandemic — despite pleas from a bipartisan coalition of leaders, including the Republican Governor of Arizona, Doug Ducey, to do so.
 
This is yet another step in Trump’s ideological battle against the ACA — no matter the cost to the health care of Americans — which has seen his Administration pursue efforts that would kick tens of millions of Americans off their coverage and roll back protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions
 
About 20 million Americans have received health insurance through the ACA, and it’s given better care and peace of mind to countless others — that’s why Vice President Biden sent a letter to President Trump and Republican leaders demanding that they drop their efforts to jeopardize Americans’ health care. 
 

2.  Why do you continue to mislead Americans about your failure to adequately develop and deploy an effective coronavirus test — a failure that allowed the virus to spread unchecked and explode across our country?
 
In a call with governors on Monday, according to the New York Times, Trump continued to shrug off the coronavirus testing crisis that exploded on his watch, claiming that “I haven’t heard about testing being a problem” and that he hasn’t “heard about testing in weeks” — even though countless Americans are still unable to be tested for the coronavirus, fatally undercutting our response to this crisis?

Trump’s lie was so out of step with reality that it prompted a rebuke from fellow Republicans, with Maryland Governor Larry Hogan saying yesterday that Trump’s claim was “just not true” and that “no state has enough testing” and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine adding that “we know Ohio hasn’t had as much testing as we would have liked. We had to ration the testing.”
 
Similarly, Trump’s assertion in a Monday interview with Fox New that testing failures were the fault of the Obama-Biden administration was demolished by PolitiFact yesterday, which rated Trump’s claim “Pants on Fire” false, and said that that his attack “flies in the face of logic.”
 
Trump’s baseless claims come just days after a bombshell report by the Times showed how his failure to quickly deploy an accurate coronavirus test resulted in a “lost month” that left America blind as it tried to combat the virus’ spread, and that his administration “squandered [America’s] best chance of containing the virus’s spread.”


3.  With new polls showing that Americans don’t approve of your handling of the coronavirus crisis, do you regret not acting sooner to halt the virus’ spread, like other countries did, instead of downplaying its threat for months?
 
Two new polls today show growing numbers of Americans disapprove of Trump’s slow and erratic response to the coronavirus, which has left the United States leading the world in confirmed cases.
 
POLITICO/Morning Consult survey found that by a seven point margin, Americans don’t think the administration is doing enough to combat the coronavirus. Similarly, an Associated Press poll also out today shows that only 44% of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the pandemic and only 38% approve of the federal government’s response — even as people rally in support of how their state and local officials have handled the crisis. 
 
These sliding poll numbers come as Trump continues to mislead Americans about his slow response to the coronavirus pandemic, bizarrely claiming in Monday’s press briefing that he knew all along how dangerous the virus was, but failing to explain why he didn’t take swift action.
 

4.  GOP State Attorneys General confirmed Monday that they will continue their lawsuit to roll back the Affordable Care Act and kick millions of Americans off their health insurance in the midst of a pandemic. Will you, as Vice President Biden has called for, withdraw your support for this effort?
 
The Daily Beast confirmed on Monday that at least five Republican state Attorneys General plan to continue their lawsuit to overturn the ACA — threatening the health care of millions of Americans in the middle of a pandemic.  
 
Ten years ago, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, expanding access to quality, affordable health care for millions of Americans. But instead of standing up for Americans’ health care, Donald Trump continues to lead fellow Republicans in efforts to do away with the law and the critical protections it put in place.
 

5.  Why did your administration ignore existing Obama-Biden Administration plans to combat pandemics and why did you take actions that reduced our preparedness for challenges like the coronavirus?
 
POLITICO reports that the Trump administration tossed out an existing “pandemic playbook” from the National Security Council that laid out, in detail, steps to take in the face of a public health emergency like this. 
 
As a result, key problems that the playbook planned for — like the current logistical challenges plaguing our health care system — went unaddressed, slowing down our response. 
 
This is only one in a string of missteps by the Trump administration that left the United States unprepared and vulnerable to a future pandemic. Key positions across the government have been left unfilled, or occupied by unqualified political cronies. Similarly, CDC staff in China was slashed on Trump’s watch, removing important eyes and ears on the ground that could have given us critical early notice of the coronavirus’ spread.


6.  With another round of record unemployment claims showing the economic pain the coronavirus is putting the American people through, do you regret the weeks you spent downplaying the threat it posed and do you agree with your Treasury Secretary who said last week that unemployment numbers are “not relevant”?
 
With 6.6 million Americans filing for unemployment benefits last week, the explosive economic toll of the coronavirus continues to grow.
 
For months, Trump ignored and downplayed the looming threat of the coronavirus and failed to take the necessary steps to prepare us — even as other countries quickly acted. Now, America has more coronavirus cases than any other country in the world and our economy continues to suffer body blows.
 
Throughout, Trump’s administration has shown a cavalier indifference to the unimaginable economic toll of the coronavirus has had on the American workers, with Secretary Mnuchin claiming that last week’s massive unemployment figures were “not relevant” — even as families across the country are struggling to make ends meet.
 
 
7.  Why are you refusing to allow Americans who desperately need health insurance in the middle of a pandemic access to the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace? 
 
The Trump administration is refusing to re-open the federal ACA marketplace — preventing Americans’ access to health insurance in the midst of a global pandemic — despite pleas from a bipartisan coalition of leaders, including the Republican Governor of Arizona, Doug Ducey, to do so.
 
This is yet another step in Trump’s ideological battle against the ACA — no matter the cost to the health of Amercans — which has seen his Administration pursue efforts that would kick tens of millions of Americans off their coverage and roll back protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions
 
About 20 million Americans have received health insurance through the ACA, and it’s given better care and peace of mind to countless others — that’s why Vice President Biden sent a letter to President Trump and Republican leaders demanding that they drop their efforts to jeopardize Americans’ health care.
 

8.  A new report today shows that the U.S. Army was projecting as early as the beginning of February that 150,000 Americans could be killed by the coronavirus. So why did you continue to waste precious weeks downplaying the threat it posed?
 
A shocking report today by the Daily Beast shows that as early as February 3, the U.S. Army had internal projections showing that upwards of 150,000 Americans could die as a result of the coronavirus that was then spreading rapidly around the globe.
 
Instead of joining other countries around the world in taking quick action to prepare for the virus, Trump dismissed and downplayed its threat, telling a campaign rally a week later that “looks like by April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away.”
 
Vice President Biden, in contrast, was sounding the alarm — writing a January 27 op-ed in USA Today about the threat it posed and the steps that should be taken, with Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine noting yesterday that Joe Biden “very much did see the coronavirus disaster coming.”
 
 
9.  With new polls showing that Americans don’t approve of your handling of the coronavirus crisis, do you regret not acting sooner to halt the virus’ spread?
 
Two new polls released yesterday show growing numbers of Americans disapprove of Trump’s slow and erratic response to the coronavirus, which has left the United States leading the world in confirmed cases.
 
POLITICO/Morning Consult survey found that by a seven point margin, Americans don’t think the administration is doing enough to combat the coronavirus. Similarly, an Associated Press poll also out today shows that only 44% of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the pandemic and only 38% approve of the federal government’s response — even as people rally in support of how their state and local officials have handled the crisis.
 
These sliding poll numbers come as Trump continues to mislead Americans about his slow response to the coronavirus pandemic, bizarrely claiming in Monday’s press briefing that he knew all along how dangerous the virus was, but failing to explain why he didn’t take swift action.
 
 
10.  Why do you continue to mislead Americans about your failure to adequately develop and deploy an effective coronavirus test — a failure that allowed the virus to spread unchecked and explode across our country?
 
In a call with governors on Monday, according to the New York Times, Trump continued to shrug off the coronavirus testing crisis that exploded on his watch, claiming that “I haven’t heard about testing being a problem” and that he hasn’t “heard about testing in weeks” — even though countless Americans are still unable to be tested for the coronavirus, fatally undercutting our response to this crisis?
 
Trump’s lie was so out of step with reality that it prompted a rebuke from fellow Republicans, with Maryland Governor Larry Hogan saying Tuesday that Trump’s claim was “just not true” and that “no state has enough testing” and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine adding that “we know Ohio hasn’t had as much testing as we would have liked. We had to ration the testing.”
 
Similarly, Trump’s assertion in a Monday interview with Fox New that testing failures were the fault of the Obama-Biden administration was demolished by PolitiFact yesterday, which rated Trump’s claim “Pants on Fire” false, and said that that his attack “flies in the face of logic.”
 
Trump’s baseless claims come just days after a bombshell report by the Times showed how his failure to quickly deploy an accurate coronavirus test resulted in a “lost month” that left America blind as it tried to combat the virus’ spread, and that his administration “squandered [America’s] best chance of containing the virus’s spread.

Biden to Trump: Lift Sanctions on Iran to Combat COVID-19 Pandemic

Demonstrating once again a clear contrast between the failed leadership of a clueless Donald Trump, who only knows how to politicize, attack and destroy, Vice President Joe Biden is calling for the US to lift sanctions on Iran, which is undergoing one of the deadliest COVID-19 outbreaks in the world.(c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Demonstrating once again a clear contrast between the failed leadership of a clueless Donald Trump, who only knows how to politicize, attack and destroy, Vice President Joe Biden is calling for the US to lift sanctions on Iran, which is undergoing one of the deadliest COVID-19 outbreaks in the world. “America should lead. We should be the first to offer help to people who are hurting or in danger… To stop this pandemic effectively, every country on earth will need to work together.” Here is Biden’s statement:  –Karen Rubin, news-photos-features.com.

In times of global crisis, America should lead. We should be the first to offer help to people who are hurting or in danger. That’s who we are. That’s who we’ve always been. And, in the midst of this deadly pandemic that respects no borders, the United States should take steps to offer what relief we can to those nations hardest hit by this virus — including Iran — even as we prioritize the health of the American people.

Iran is struggling to contain one of the deadliest COVID-19 outbreaks in the world. While the Iranian government has failed to respond effectively to this crisis, including lying and concealing the truth from its own people, and it continues to act provocatively in the region, the Iranian people are hurting desperately. It is bad enough that the Trump administration abandoned the Iran nuclear deal in favor of a “maximum pressure” strategy that has badly backfired, encouraging Iran to become even more aggressive and restart its nuclear program. It makes no sense, in a global health crisis, to compound that failure with cruelty by inhibiting access to needed humanitarian assistance. Whatever our profound differences with the Iranian government, we should support the Iranian people. 

There are already humanitarian exceptions in place for sanctions, but in practice, most governments and organizations are too concerned about running afoul of U.S. sanctions to offer assistance. As a result, our sanctions are limiting Iran’s access to medical supplies and needed equipment. The Trump Administration should take immediate steps to address this problem and streamline channels for banking and public health assistance from other countries in response to the health emergency in Iran. 

Specific steps should include: issuing broad licenses to pharmaceutical and medical device companies; creating a dedicated channel for international banks, transportation companies, insurers, and other service firms to help Iranians access life-saving medical treatment; issuing new sanctions guidance to these groups and international aid organizations to make it clear how they can immediately, directly, and legally respond to the tragedy in Iran, without fear of penalty; and, for entities already conducting enhanced due diligence, it should issue comfort letters to reassure them that they will not be subject to U.S. sanctions if they engage in humanitarian trade with Iran to support its COVID-19 response. The administration should also consider similar steps to ensure that U.S. sanctions do not inhibit live-saving medical assistance to other countries hard hit by the virus.

The administration’s offer of aid to Iran is insufficient if not backed by concrete steps to ensure the United States is not exacerbating this growing humanitarian crisis. Whatever our many, many disagreements with the Iranian government, it’s the right and the humane thing to do. And Iran also should make a humanitarian gesture and allow detained American citizens to return home.

To stop this pandemic effectively, every country on earth will need to work together. We must address COVID-19 outbreaks wherever they occur, because as long as this virus is spreading anywhere in the world, it is a danger to public health everywhere. Artificially limiting the flow of international humanitarian assistance to pursue a political point will not only allow the Iranian government to deflect responsibility for its own botched response, it will increase the threat this virus poses to the American people, now and in the future. 

Amid Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, NYS Governor Cuomo Announces New Hospital Network Central Coordinating Team

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the formation of a new hospital network Central Coordinating Team to facilitate a more coordinated and strategic approach among the state’s healthcare system in combating the COVID-19 pandemic. The program could become a model for other states, indeed, a model for a national approach to providing necessary personnel and equipment to address coronavirus hotspots as they emerge around the country, as Cuomo called for unity © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the formation of a new hospital network Central Coordinating Team to facilitate a more coordinated and strategic approach among the state’s healthcare system in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program could become a model for other states, indeed, a model for a national approach to providing necessary personnel and equipment to address coronavirus hotspots as they emerge around the country as Cuomo called for unity.

The coordinating team will help implement the statewide public-private hospital plan, which the Governor announced yesterday, to share information, supplies, staff and patients among hospitals across the State. The team will be responsible for organizing upstate to downstate staffing; assisting Elmhurst Hospital and other stressed hospitals; setting patient thresholds for hospitals; organizing patient transfers to other hospitals and the USNS Comfort; coordinating State-City stockpiles and individual hospital stockpiles; and facilitating staffing recruitment.

The team will be led by the State Department of Health and includes the Westchester, New York City and Long Island healthcare systems, the Greater New York Hospital Association and the Healthcare Association of New York State. The team will also work with FEMA and the federal government.

Governor Cuomo also announced the State is launching an online portal that will help connect hospitals and healthcare fasciitis across the state with the nearly 80,000 healthcare workers who have volunteered to work on a temporary basis during the COVID-19 pandemic. The portal will prioritize the deployment of workers to hospitals with the greatest need; volunteers are expected to be deployed as early as this Thursday.

“As we continue to battle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we have two missions – preparing our hospital system so it is not overwhelmed when the apex of the curve hits and ensuring people stay home so they don’t get the virus in the first place,” Governor Cuomo said. “We are following the mathematical projections of the experts and preparing for the main battle at the apex by procuring as much equipment as we can, increasing our hospital capacity and supporting hospital staff. We met with the entire state hospital system for the first time ever and established an unprecedented new approach to work cooperatively as one unified, statewide healthcare system to defeat this virus. This virus does not discriminate — no one is immune to it — and people must continue to be cautious, think of others and not leave their homes unless absolutely necessary.”

The governor soberly gave “the blunt truth of this situation” saying: “Total number of people tested, 200,000. Population of 19 million, is not going to give you a random sample, but it’s been helping us track down on the positive cases. Number of positive cases, 9,298. Total cases 75,000 cases. You see the predominance in New York City, then Westchester, then Nassau, then Suffolk, then Rockland. So you can see it’s that area of density. It spreads out from that area of density. The march of coronavirus across the State of New York continues. We’re down to just two counties that don’t have a case. The overall numbers, 75,000 have tested positive. Ten thousand people in our hospitals, 2,700 ICU patients. Good news, 4,900 – almost 5,000 – discharged. That’s up 771. So people come in, they get treated, they go home.

“New York is at 75,000 cases. Next state is 16,000. California is at 7,000. So you can see New York, there’s a magnitude of difference more than any other state. Fifteen-hundred fifty deaths. That’s up from 1,218 yesterday. Again, we’re studying the charts. We’re trying to study the data, follow the data. The data is uneven. It bounces. Numbers often bounce in any model. There are variables in this model. The hospitals are reporting it, so what every hospital reported, were they busy, are they combining a couple of days in one? It’s an imperfect reporting mechanism.

“You see the basic line is still up. What the statisticians will tell you is you basically draw the straight line that columns indicate and you see that we’re still going up which is what we see on the overall trajectory, that we’re still going up. Number of intubations was down, not much, but it was down and that’s a good sign. You also see the number of discharges going up and that’s consistent. The longer people are in, they either get treated and leave or they get put on a ventilator and the longer you’re on a ventilator, the less likelihood you will come off the ventilator. That is the blunt truth of this situation.”

With the realization that New York is still 14 to 30 days from reaching the apex – that is, the peak of number of cases on a given day – after which there would still be the descent before the crisis is ended, Cuomo said, “In general, I am tired of being behind this virus. We’ve been behind this virus from day one. The virus was in China. We knew it was in China. Unless we assume there’s some immune system variation with Asian people, it was coming here and we have been behind it from day one since it got here and we’ve been playing catch-up. You don’t win playing catch-up. We have to get ahead of it. The second rule is never underestimate your opponent, and we underestimated this virus. It’s more powerful, it’s more dangerous than we expected, and the third point is plan forward. Get ahead of it. Get ahead of it, fight the fight today, yes, but anticipate the next battle and plan for the next battle.

“And the main battle is at the apex. We’re still going up the mountain. The main battle is on the top of the mountain. That’s where the main battle is going to be. The apex of the curve and then we come down the other side of the mountain. We are planning now for the battle at the top of the mountain. That’s what we are doing. Get a staffing plan ready now for the battle at the top of the mountain. Equipment stockpile now – we’re gathering equipment that we don’t need today because today is not the day of the battle. The battle is when we hit the apex, depending on who you believe, 14 days to 30 days from today.

“And also we need a social acceptance of the time expectation. We’re all anxious. We’re all tired, we’re all fatigued. It’s been all bad news for a long time. Our whole lifestyle has been disrupted. Everybody knows wants to know one thing, when is it over, nobody knows. Well, President said by Easter; this one said by this – nobody knows. You can have a hypothesis, you can have a projection, you can have an opinion but nobody knows, but I can say this, it is not going to be soon. If our apex is 14 to 21 days, that’s our apex. You then have to come down the other side of the mountain once you hit the apex, so calibrate yourself and your expectations so you’re not disappointed every morning you get up.”

Cuomo described the “balkanization” and “fragmentation” of the state’s health care system – private hospital chains, public hospitals, downstate and upstate, city and suburbs and rural communities, rich and needy and now federal hospitals – and said that he was creating a network where staff, supplies and patients would be allocated as needed.

“That has to be our mentality. We laid out a full plan on how to do facility development, how to move people among hospitals so nobody gets overloaded, shifting patients, shifting staff, shifting supplies. None of us have enough supplies. Okay, then let’s pool our supplies and let’s put them out for the people who need them. Just because one hospital happened to have found a vendor from China who delivered 5 million masks, let’s share those masks.”

Getting ahead of the virus means gearing up for the projected apex and stockpiling vital equipment like ventilators for the day when they will be needed – a remark intended to blunt Trump’s veiled accusation that Cuomo was warehousing 4,000 ventilators while complaining that he needed 30,000.

And he continued to appeal for mass testing as critical to not only determining who is sick, but who has the antibodies and therefore no longer at risk.

The crisis ends, he said, “when we get a fast track test, an at home test, 15-minute test, and people can find out when they can go back to work because they’re negative. We’re working on additional testing. As I said, the department of health has a new test, but that’s when this ends

“We’re also working on the new medications. We’re leading the country in many of these developments. We have saliva testing. We’re working on the antibody testing and plasma testing at the same time.”

Cuomo added, “We know what to do. We just have to do it. It is individual discipline to stay at home. That’s what it is, it’s discipline. No social distancing. It’s discipline. Well, I’m bored. I know. I’m bored. It’s discipline. Making this healthcare system work, that’s government skill, that’s government performance. That’s saying to that healthcare system, I don’t care how it worked yesterday, I don’t care whose turf this is, I don’t care whose ego is involved, I’m sorry, we have to find a way to work, a better way. Time to say to that federal government and to FEMA and HHS, you have to learn how to do your job, and you have to learn how to do it quickly. Because time is not our friend. It’s about a social stamina. This is not one week, two weeks, three weeks, four weeks, five weeks, six weeks, okay? This is not going to be an Easter surprise. Understand that and have the stamina to deal with it.

The coordination of the state’s health care system is but one step in what Cuomo called for as “unity” – coordination and cooperation among states.

“Let’s help one another. New York needs help now. Yesterday I asked for healthcare workers from across the country to come here because we need help. We will pay you, and more importantly, we will return the favor. This is going to be a rolling wave across the country. New York, then it’ll be Detroit, then it’ll be New Orleans, then it will be California. If we were smart as a nation, come help us in New York. Get the equipment. Get the training. Get the experience. And then let’s all go help the next place, and then the next place, and then the next place. That would be a smart national way of doing this. And showing that unity. And, unity meaning, we’re not, I know this is a political year, and everything is a political backdrop, and Democrats want to criticize Republicans, Republicans want to criticize Democrats. Not now. Not now. There are no red states, there are no blue states. The virus doesn’t attack and kill red Americans or blue Americans. It attacks all Americans. And keep that in mind, because there is, there is a unifying wisdom in that.”

The Governor confirmed 9,298 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 75,795 confirmed cases in New York State – among them, the governor’s own brother, Chris Cuomo, who anchors a news program on CNN. Of the 75,795 total individuals who tested positive for the virus, the geographic breakdown is as follows:

County Total Positive New Positive
Albany 226 9
Allegany 7 0
Broome 38 3
Cattaraugus 6 0
Cayuga 3 0
Chautauqua 6 1
Chemung 20 5
Chenango 19 2
Clinton 21 4
Columbia 30 4
Cortland 8 0
Delaware 16 5
Dutchess 484 92
Erie 438 62
Essex 4 0
Franklin 9 3
Fulton 1 0
Genesee 10 1
Greene 16 6
Hamilton 2 0
Herkimer 12 0
Jefferson 12 1
Lewis 2 0
Livingston 13 1
Madison 41 7
Monroe 292 50
Montgomery 7 1
Nassau 8,544 1,200
Niagara 42 1
NYC 43,139 5,686
Oneida 40 6
Onondaga 194 14
Ontario 22 2
Orange 1,556 121
Orleans 6 2
Oswego 15 1
Otsego 18 1
Putnam 186 19
Rensselaer 41 1
Rockland 2,863 352
Saratoga 108 3
Schenectady 85 5
Schoharie 6 0
Schuyler 2 0
Seneca 2 2
St. Lawrence 30 17
Steuben 24 5
Suffolk 6,713 922
Sullivan 109 8
Tioga 7 3
Tompkins 66 0
Ulster 211 21
Warren 18 0
Washington 10 3
Wayne 19 4
Westchester 9,967 641
Wyoming 9 1

On Equal Pay Day, Lilly Ledbetter Endorses Joe Biden for President

Lilly Ledbetter at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. On Equal Pay Day 2020, she endorsed Joe Biden for President of the United States. The fight continues. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.

Today, as the nation is too consumed with the coronavirus pandemic to mark Equal Pay Day, Lilly Ledbetter, for whom the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was signed as Barack Obama’s first order of business as President upon taking office 2009, endorsed Joe Biden for President of the United States:

“This is the first time in more than 12 years that I am at home on Equal Pay Day. I’m usually in some part of the country with a huge crowd of women and men who are dedicated to closing the pay gap. Instead I am staying home, watching along with so many other people as the  current president shows Americans just how little he cares about working families.

“As Equal Pay Day reminds us, women are paid far less than men. This pandemic is only increasing the inequalities facing women in this country. As the majority of the health care workforce, women are on the frontlines of this crisis, at times putting their own health at risk or separating from their families, while taking care of our country’s sick and vulnerable. And, as this crisis forces women to work from home, work fewer hours, lose their jobs, many at the same time  are taking care of their families or trying to teach their kids at home. Yet they still face paycheck discrimination, just like I did so many years ago.

“I know Joe Biden. He understands what it’s like to be a single parent. And, he will fight for equal pay and working women, just as he always has. That’s why I am proud to endorse him to be our next president.”

Ledbetter won a historic gender pay discrimination case against her employer, Goodyear Tire and Rubbery Company, after she was paid less than her male counterparts simply because she was a woman. When the Supreme Court overturned the case, she took her fight to Congress and lobbied for a legislative fix. She is the namesake of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the first piece of legislation signed into law during the Obama-Biden Administration.

Equal Pay Day symbolizes how far into 2020 the average woman has to work to make what the average white man made in 2019.For every dollar a man makes, the average woman makes 82 cents. For a woman who works full time, year round, that’s a gap of more than $10,000 annually and over $400,000 over a forty-year career. The pay gap is even wider for women of color.

The pay gap has significant impacts on American families and our economy overall. If women earned as much as men, the poverty rate for working single women and the children who live with them would be cut in half.

Biden for President has previously announced more than 2,500 endorsements from national, state, and local leaders, including current and former U.S. senators and representatives, governors, state elected officials, community leaders, and national security professionals.

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.
  

The Biden Emergency Action Plan to Save the Economy From Coronavirus Pandemic

Vice President Joe Biden offers his own plan to address the coronavirus pandemic that contrasts with Trump’s: “It would be catastrophic to reopen everything without a plan, and then have a spike in cases and shut it all back down. That would just mean more loss of life and economic pain.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

So far, Donald Trump has failed to lead – he has begrudgingly followed when shamed into acting by Governors like Cuomo, Newsome yet still manages to take credit for the “boldest” “greatest” “historic” “unprecedented” actions for which he had no input. Trump is taking credit for a $2 trillion aid package that contradicts his own plans to bail out the Oil & Gas industry and give Treasury Secretary Mnuchin unlimited power to steer billions of dollars to friends, while his EPA and Interior Department race to institute rules that overturn Obama-era rules to reduce carbon emissions that contribute to Climate Change; there is even a provision in the bail-out specifically barring funds to go to Trump’s own businesses because of his record of using his office for self-enrichment, in violation of the Emoluments Clause. Trump’s daily briefings have been turned into substitutes for his campaign rallies, where he gets to attack “enemies” (The Press) and spout lies designed to boost his approval and chances for election. Democratic challengers Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders don’t have the same bully pulpit, but have nonetheless attempted to draw stark contrasts in how they would lead the nation out of this coronavirus pandemic, which, in fact, could be continuing into the next president’s administration. This is from the Biden campaign: — Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features, editor@news-photos-features.com

Tonight, Joe Biden is releasing an emergency action plan to save the economy, laying out three key steps he would take as president to tackle the ongoing pandemic and safeguard our country’s economic prosperity. In a new video speaking directly to Americans, Vice President Biden outlined his emergency action plan and highlighted the immediate, impactful steps that can be taken to defeat the virus and protect the livelihood of working families.

FACT SHEET:
The Biden Emergency Action Plan to Save the Economy

Congress is close to passing a massive relief bill. When it passes, it’s all about execution — and filling in the gaps.
 
If Joe Biden were President right now, here are the three things he would do now to save our economy and help our families weather the storm.  And to get them done, he would appoint a task force reporting twice-daily to him on progress.
 
FIRST, use all available authorities, including the Defense Production Act to turn the tide on this epidemic. Joe Biden knows that no economic strategy will work if we don’t stop the virus. In recent days, there’s been talk that we have to choose between public health and our economy. That’s not just a false choice. It’s a dangerous one.
 
It would be catastrophic to reopen everything without a plan, and then have a spike in cases and shut it all back down. That would just mean more loss of life and economic pain.
 
To reopen, public health experts say we need real testing capacity, the ability to trace contacts if someone tests positive, and the ability to surge equipment and supplies to any new hotspots. We should listen to them. It’s the quickest, surest way to getting our economy back on track. And we also need to address the shortage of items like ventilators and personal protective equipment for health care workers, and make sure our workforce on the frontlines everyday has the protections to provide the essential services we will continue to need.  Joe Biden would use the full powers of the presidency and this government to make that happen. 
 
Joe Biden would end this epidemic and get our economy back on track through bold action — not by picking an arbitrary date on the calendar and asserting it’s over.
 
SECOND, launch a task force reporting directly to me to make sure every dollar going out the door gets to the people who need it — fast.
 
Joe Biden led the implementation of the Recovery Act in the last crisis.  He knows it’s all about priorities. Here would be his:

  • Keep as many people on the payroll as possible and make Americans whole for lost hours and wages. Joe Biden would expedite aid to businesses who commit to helping workers stay employed through the crisis, so they can get back to work when conditions allow.  He would maximize work-sharing, a form of “employment insurance” we championed in the Obama-Biden administration to keep more workers on the job. And for those who do get laid off and who’s industries are out of work, the congressional bill boosts unemployment benefits — Biden would cut through the red tape to deliver them without delay, and extend them as long as public health and economic conditions call for it.
  • Act decisively to keep small businesses in business. Included in the legislation before Congress is $377 billion for small businesses. This money will guarantee immediate loans that banks provide to small businesses to make payroll, pay rent and other costs, and keep their doors open. But there is a real risk it won’t get out fast enough to make a difference.  So Joe Biden would take unprecedented measures to get it done  Where the government is guaranteeing loans, banks have no commercial excuse for not making them. So he would call in bank CEOs and tell them that in this time of crisis, it is a matter of the utmost national interest to get these loans out the door quickly and efficiently. And if they don’t, he would seek authority similar to the Defense Production Act to make sure their lending platforms are giving priority to small business. He would also make clear that $377 billion is not a cap — we will spend whatever it takes. 
  • Enforce real conditions and oversight on big corporations.  Joe Biden would tell large companies seeking taxpayer assistance that they need to make hard commitments that the assistance will go toward their workers, not toward enriching their CEOs or shareholders. He would hold the strictest line on bans on buybacks and raises for executives. He would impose the highest scrutiny on payroll plans. And he would impose strict oversight and enforcement of these conditions by appointing strong regulators focused on corporate accountability and worker protections in the event of bankruptcy. Joe Biden will not let companies off the hook, the way the White House and Senate originally proposed.

THIRD, bring the leaders of Congress together to build the next deal. This was a good start. But more must be done. Congress approved direct cash relief — $1,200 per person to help working families through this crisis.  But it’s a one-off.  And Congress didn’t include direct student loan forgiveness, or Social Security boosts for seniors, or cost-free treatment for COVID-19, full paid sick leave for our workers, or sufficient fiscal relief to states.  Joe Biden would:

  • Provide for additional checks to families should conditions require.
  • Forgive a minimum of $10,000 per person of federal student loans, as proposed by Senator Warren and colleagues. Young people and other student debt holders bore the brunt of the last crisis. It shouldn’t happen again.
  • Increase monthly Social Security checks by $200/month, as proposed by Senator Wyden and colleagues. Seniors and people with disabilities are uniquely at risk right now.
  • Provide emergency paid sick leave to everyone who needs it, with no one left out. This should include workers in all industries and all sectors, regardless of company size, and including gig workers, domestic workers, contractors, and the self-employed.
  • Ensure that no one has to pay a dollar out of pocket for COVID-19 testing, treatment, or an eventual vaccine.
  • Provide all necessary fiscal relief to states so their workers and communities get the help they need, especially those on the front lines like New York.

The bottom line is that Congress will have to keep acting. This is not the last bill.  There will be more. And Joe Biden would do whatever it takes, spend whatever it takes, move heaven and earth to help all the people harmed by this crisis.