It is stunning that Grim Reaper McConnell, who held up the first House coronavirus stimulus bill for days, is now attacking Senate Democrats for refusing to rubberstamp a $2 trillion giveaway to corporate insiders and CEOs, raising the alarm (get this) that waiting until noon would mean a whole morning of Wall Street sinking further. A morning in exchange for the health and well being of Americans and the economy. The idea that Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, who made a bundle on the misery of the 2008 Bush Great Recession using just these same tactics, will personally decide what companies get bailed out is absurd – and a clear clue is that they want to keep secret who they are handing money to for 6 months.
Senator Elizabeth Warren and the Democrats have a better plan for immediate relief to Americans who will be most harmed financially now and perhaps for the rest of their lives: erase student debt, use the mechanisms you already have: expand unemployment insurance, disability, social security. Instead of simply incentivizing companies to not do anything and still collect up to $10 million in loans that would be forgiven (Mnuchin will choose who gets what), purchase goods and services needed now; evoke the war powers to require factories to reconfigure to produce vitally needed medical equipment and put in purchase orders for future production, say electric cars, long-life batteries, solar panels, wind turbines, and especially medical supplies which will give the companies the needed cash flow to get through. Then test everyone to determine who is already immune and can return to work, rather than lock people in for six months, nine months, until the hypothetical “herd immunization” number is reached.
At this point, projections call for 40 to 80 percent of people to become infected, and deaths from one million to two million. Trump and his Keystone Cops administration of corrupt, inept thugs have no clue how to keep the numbers down to a minimum, and keep people and the economy healthy. Vice President Joe Biden, running for president, offered his own criticism and plan in a speech – Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by Vice President Joe Biden on Combating Coronavirus (COVID-19)
I hope you and your family are doing well in these difficult, anxious, and confusing times.
Like all families, the Biden family is adjusting to new ways: less time together, more worrying about friends and relatives, concern about those isolated – or suffering – due to the coronavirus.
As Americans, we may be physically apart, but we are truly all in this together.
And let me say something right up front: When we have stood as one, this nation has never been defeated. And we are not going to be defeated now.
The pandemic of 1918. The Great Depression. Two World Wars. 9/11.
We overcame them all.
And out of each crisis – we emerged stronger.
And we will again.
This new enemy may be unseen – but we have the tools, the expertise, and, most important, the will and the spirit to defeat it.
But we need to move – and we need to move fast.
It matters for the public health. And it matters for our economy.
Later today, you will hear from the President in his daily briefing.
These briefings are an important opportunity to inform and reassure the American people
They’re not a place for political attacks. Or to lash out at the press.
They’re about the American people.
So I hope today and in the days ahead, the president will give us the unvarnished truth. That’s what the American people need and deserve.
I hope he lets medical experts and FEMA leaders and others carrying out the work take center stage so we can hear directly from them.
And I hope we hear less talk and see more evidence of fast action.
My principal focus today – and every day – will be on what we should do to get this response fixed, to save lives, and to provide economic assistance to the tens of millions of Americans who need it now – and who will need it in the weeks and months ahead.
It starts with adopting a mindset of real urgency.
For too long, the warning signs were ignored.
For too long the Administration said the threat was “under control,” “contained,” like a “flu.” The president says no one saw this coming. That’s just not true.
Our own intelligence officials were warning of the coronavirus threat in January.
Just based on public information, I warned that this threat would get worse way back on January 27, and urged the need to put science first, draw on emergency funds to get the response started, and think about invoking disaster powers to respond.
Many of us talked about the need to get U.S. scientists on the ground in China to see first-hand what was happening, rather than relying solely on China.
My point is not simply that the president was wrong.
My point is that the mindset that was slow to recognize the problem and treat it with the seriousness it deserves, is still too much a part of how the president is addressing the problem.
South Korea detected their first case of coronavirus on the same day that we did.
But they had tests and a sophisticated tracing program to stop the spread of the virus,
so they didn’t have to put the country on lockdown.
We had none of that.
So we are left with only the extreme social distancing measures currently in place.
That’s a failure of planning and preparation by this White House.
Today, months later, Americans who need to be tested still have no access to tests
in many parts of the country. And in many places, our health care system teeters on the brink of collapse.
Hospital beds are filling. Doctors and nurses are already running out of critical equipment.
The federal government needs to coordinate getting medical supplies out to every corner of our country so we don’t have governors competing against one another.
As late as yesterday, we are being told that the president still has not activated his authority under the Defense Production Act to direct American manufacturers to make essential supplies.
Trump keeps saying he’s a wartime president— well, then, he should act like one.
To paraphrase a frustrated President Lincoln writing to an inactive General McLellan during the Civil War: “If you don’t want to use the army, may I borrow it?”
We need to get in motion today what should have been set in motion weeks ago.
Any public health expert will tell you that in a crisis like this you can’t move too fast – you can only move too slow.
Let me be clear: Donald Trump is not to blame for the coronavirus. But he does bear responsibility for our response.
And I, along with every American, hope he steps up and starts to get this right.
This isn’t about politics.
There is simply too much at stake – too many lives, too many livelihoods, too many homes and families and businesses and communities at risk.
I’ve laid out a very detailed, in-depth plan for what we should do. You can read it all on JoeBiden.com.
We need immediate action –on testing, on research for treatments and vaccines, on leading a global response to beat the virus everywhere.
But today, I want to focus on just four key areas for action.
First, the President must take immediate steps to increase the capacity of our health care system to treat the sickest coronavirus patients, safely.
I’m glad the president has finally activated the National Guard.
Now we need the Armed Forces and the National Guard to help with hospital capacity, supplies, and logistics.
We need to activate a reserve corps of doctors and nurses to beef up the number of responders dealing with this crush of cases, and allow doctors and nurses trained abroad, not currently at work in the U.S., to temporarily work alongside our overburdened health care providers.
Second, the President must use the Defense Production Act to radically increase the supply of critical goods needed to treat patients and protect our health care workers and first responders, including protective gear like face masks, and critical equipment like ventilators so desperately needed in our hospitals.
It means working with our allies and partners to get supplies from overseas when available, and dispatching U.S. military assets to retrieve them quickly.
It means federal coordination of the supply chain to accelerate deliveries and get them to the right places. And much more.
We are the nation that built the arsenal of democracy in the 1940s. We can make personal protective equipment for health care workers in 2020.
Third, the President needs to end the infighting and bickering in his own administration, listen to the scientists, and provide clear guidance.
The American people are not getting clear leadership, clear action, or clear accountability.
Management matters in a crisis. I’ve been there in the Situation Room. There are thousands of steps that need to be taken, all at once.
You need to be planning not just for today and tomorrow, but for the day after.
Is this White House actively planning for what it will take for America to begin to return to something resembling normal life?
Just waiting and seeing isn’t going to cut it.
What are the conditions required? What capacities should be in place? What protections and protocols do we need to ensure the virus doesn’t simply start spreading again?
They need to start planning now, so the current measures stay in place for as long as they are needed, but not longer.
And fourth, the President needs to set the right priorities for our economic response.
Our guiding principle must be to keep everyone paid through this crisis.
We should be doing everything in our power to keep workers on payrolls, make small businesses healthy, and help the economy come out the other side strong.
The Federal Government should provide the resources to make that happen, while still protecting the American taxpayer.
Unfortunately, as of last night, President Trump and Mitch McConnell were offering a plan that let big corporations off the hook. They proposed a $500 billion slush fund for corporations, with almost no conditions.
Under their plan, the Trump Administration could even allow companies to use taxpayers’ money for stock buybacks and executive pay packages.
They wouldn’t have to make commitments to keep workers employed.
They wouldn’t even have to tell Americans where the money goes for months.
Today, there are active efforts to fix this bill so it focuses on workers and families and small businesses rather than no-strings corporate bailouts.
Here’s my bottom line: Millions of small businesses, like the family-run restaurant that is trying to stay open and pay its workers – they should get the funds they need.
Big companies will need help, too — but no blank checks.
If corporations take money from taxpayers, they have to make a commitment that they will keep workers on payroll.
The worker who is seeing their wages slashed — they need to be made whole.
Those who do lose jobs – they need strong, sustained, unemployment benefits, whether they are a gig worker or a full-time employee.
The family that will go hungry tonight – they need food on the table.
Social Security checks need to be boosted.
Student debt should be forgiven.
Cash relief needs to go out fast to all of the people who need it the most.
We can act quickly and together.
We can put the politics aside to meet this moment, like Governors all across the nation.
Mike Dewine in Ohio, Larry Hogan in Maryland, Charlie Baker in Massachusetts.
Gavin Newsom in California, Jay Inslee in Washington, Gretchen Witmer in Michigan.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s briefings are a lesson in leadership.
Republicans and Democrats — all are rising to the moment, putting aside politics to do what needs to be done.
But they all are looking to the federal government for more help.
Finally, it’s worth noting that today is the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act. I’m proud of the role I played, alongside President Obama, in bringing Obamacare into law. And I’m proud of its record of achievement.
But also today, in the middle of one of the biggest public health emergencies in generations, the White House and Republican attorneys general are actively pursuing a lawsuit to invalidate the ACA in court.
They are working to strip millions of Americans of their health care and tens of millions of their protections for pre-existing conditions.
I sent them a letter this morning, with a simple request: Withdraw this lawsuit. End this effort to take away people’s health care.
This is not the moment to add additional uncertainty and fear in this nation or to let politics trump doing what is right. Give Americans peace of mind.
In a crisis, character is revealed — and each day we are seeing the courage and heart of Americans shine through.
Our military, our first responders, our doctors, nurses and health care workers, of course.
But also those who we don’t think about as much: the grocery store workers; the mail and package carriers; the workers manufacturing the gear we need, keeping delivery trucks on the road, cooking meals to deliver, and tending our elderly loved ones; the journalists who keep us up to date and hold leaders accountable; the government officials working on this problem, and so many more.
They are putting it all on the line for us. We need to give them all the help they need now. And we need to be sure we never forget what they’ve done.
Let me close with this thought: Deep in the heart of every American, there burns a flame. It’s an inheritance from every generation of Americans that has come before us. It’s why we have overcome every crisis we have ever faced before. It’s what makes this nation special and why we stand apart.
That flame is not going to be extinguished in this moment.
If our leadership does its part, the American people will do their part.
Because here’s the simple truth: The American people have never, ever let this country down.
So, we need to get moving, and moving fast.
This is the United States of America, and there’s not a single thing we can’t do — if we do it together. Thank you.