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The Washington Report: July 24, 2020 … “A Band-Aid On A Bullet Wound”
24 Jul 2020

The Washington Report: July 24, 2020 … “A Band-Aid On A Bullet Wound”

A Giant Life … A Band-aid On A Bullet Wound … The 3-M’s … Trump Bends DHS To His Will … NDAA … Another Grim Milestone … We Blew It On Testing … On Schools … On Economics … The Crisis That Shocked The World: America’s Response To Covid 19 … 2020 Election Story In 3 Slides … Money Race Interactive … About-Face On Convention … and other news of the week-
Joyce Rubenstein
Capstone National Partners

A Giant Life

Rep. John Lewis, who devoted his life to racial justice and equality, died Friday night at 80. Lewis, D-Ga., had served in the House of Representatives since 1987, after decades of work as an organizer and activist – serving as a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, organizing the March on Washington in lockstep with Martin Luther King Jr. and serving in the Atlanta City Council. He was an orator unlike many others, his words galvanizing action for multiple generations.”
AJC “Informed by his Christian upbringing, shaped by the teachings of philosophers like Mohandas Gandhi and Henry David Thoreau and honed by mentors such as Martin Luther King Jr., Lewis’ life was permeated by love, nonviolence and reconciliation. Even in his later years, Lewis said he felt no bitterness toward the people who hurt, arrested and jailed him during his time at the forefront of the civil rights movement.
His unwavering adherence to nonviolence sometimes drew criticism from his peers, who argued his methods were insufficient for erasing the country’s deep-seeded inequalities. But as Lewis saw it, all of humanity lived together in the same house. If one section began to rot, the entire structure could be put at risk.
John Lewis’ funeral will be Thursday at Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. His body will lie in state at the Capitol on July 27/28, with the public viewing moved outdoors to allow for social distancing.
Axios “Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) introduced a bill with the support of 47 co-sponsors on Wednesday that would fully restore the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 in the name of the late civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.). The House passed a companion bill in December. Background: The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act aims to counter the Supreme Court’s controversial 2013 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder, which gutted voter protections that had required states with a history of racial discrimination to gain federal approval before changing voting laws.”

“Get In Good Trouble”

“Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”
– John Lewis, A tweet from June 2018

A Band-aid On A Bullet Wound

WaPo “The PPP loan program was intended to be a short-term measure, just like the extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits, to help get small businesses through the worst of the pandemic. But the pandemic outlasted the PPP.  Layoffs are beginning to spike again across the country — the number of new unemployment claims rose last week for the first time since March — as coronavirus cases soar, spurring cities and states to backtrack on reopenings only a month after appearing to turn the corner. … Those losing their jobs in late June and July are part of a wave of new layoffs from companies whose PPP money is expiring, economists say.”

The 3-M’s: Mnuchin, Meadows & McConnell

Politico “After a few weeks of anticipation, the SENATE GOP LEADERSHIP had to abandon its plans to release a Covid relief bill after disagreements on policy with the Trump White House.
To put this in context: Republicans can’t even get on the same page with each other for a bill that is simply meant to jumpstart negotiations with Democrats. In other words, the bill that the White House and Senate GOP Leadership are arguing over will never get a vote. Now think about how hard it will be for Republicans to put together a big package with Democrats over the next few weeks. THE ORIGINAL PLAN was for Senate Majority Leader McConnell to introduce his Covid package on the floor Thursday morning … BUT INSTEAD, around 9:30 a.m., Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and White House COS Meadows made an emergency visit to meet with an angry McConnell, whose plans were in the process of being foiled. The crux of the disagreement was how to structure unemployment insurance. Many of the spending provisions had been hammered out. NOW, McConnell will likely have to release his draft bill next week, which is far later than he had planned. Keep in mind that enhanced unemployment benefits are due to run out at the end of the month.”

On Notice

theSkimm “More than 12 million people in the US could soon face eviction. This is about the CARES Act. Back in March, Congress passed a law protecting certain renters from getting evicted if they’re late on rent. Specifically, renters who live in homes that have federally backed mortgages. The protections were passed to help Americans struggling financially as unemployment skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic. But they were always meant to be temporary – and today they expire. What happens now? Landlords who’ve benefited from fed backed mortgages can start handing out 30-day eviction notices. This doesn’t apply to everyone – some cities and states have set up additional protections for tenants under COVID-19 that don’t expire until next month or later this year. Still, an estimated 12.3 million people (reportedly around 30% of US renters) could start getting notices. This comes as the $600 federal boost for unemployment benefits is also about to end, leaving many wondering how they’re going to make ends meet just as unemployment has ticked back up. Now, Congress is stepping in and saying ‘we’re working on it.’ (SEE ABOVE)

“DHS Is Not Your Private Militia”

Axios “It’s been a record 472 days since a Senate-confirmed secretary sat atop the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the agency founded after 9/11 to defend the U.S. against terrorism and other threats. Why it matters: Critics say President Trump’s refusal to put Cabinet secretaries through the Senate confirmation process has allowed him to bend agencies like DHS to his will. … The consequences … are playing out on the streets of Portland.”
“DHS is not your personal, private militia. Period.”
– Tom Ridge, the first Homeland Security secretary under President George W. Bush and a former Pennsylvania governor, said in an interview
President Donald Trump has exploited flaws in how the Department of Homeland Security was set up to subvert local law enforcement and broaden its investigatory authority in ways never intended, threatening its mission of protecting the nation from terrorism, former department secretaries of both parties said. “You don’t come sweeping in like a militia and take over the law enforcement jurisdiction. It’s beyond the scope of DHS, it’s certainly beyond the mission, and may be questionably bumping up against the Constitution.”

The DOJ’s Inspector General … On It

theSkimm “Yesterday, the Justice Dept’s internal watchdog said his office is investigating allegations of improper use of force by federal law enforcement in two cities: Washington, DC, and Portland, OR. Both cities have seen protests calling for an end to systemic racism and police brutality. Last month, officers used tear gas to clear the way for President Trump’s visit to St. John’s Episcopal Church in DC. And in Portland this month, agents were seen putting protesters into unmarked vans. They’ve also used tear gas there – including on Portland’s mayor. Members of Congress, the public, and the US Attorney for Oregon have all called for a review. Now, the IG is saying ‘on it.’
AND IN OREGON Politico “A judge has barred federal law enforcement officers dealing with long-running protests and unrest in Portland, Ore., from using force against journalists and legal observers trying to document the run-ins between activists and the authorities. In a temporary restraining order issued on Thursday night, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon also declared reporters, photographers and legal observers exempt from any directives issued to the general public to disperse from areas where protests are taking place. Simon said there were strong indications that journalists were being targeted by the authorities and were not simply incidentally caught up in legitimate efforts to quell violence or vandalism.”


The Hill “The Senate on Thursday passed a mammoth defense policy bill that sparked a veto threat from President Trump over its inclusion of a plan to rename bases named after Confederate figures. The Senate voted 86-14 on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). That’s above the two-thirds majority it would take to override a potential veto, though senators could flip their votes on a potential override.
The Senate’s vote comes days after the House passed its version of the annual NDAA. The two chambers will now have to reconcile their bills and craft a final deal, but with both versions containing plans to rename the bases it will likely be difficult to keep the issue out of a final agreement. The Senate’s bill includes broad outlines for Pentagon policy initiatives and allocates a total of $740.5 billion, including $636.4 billion for the Pentagon’s base budget, $25.9 billion for national security programs within the Department of Energy and $69 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations account, a war fund that isn’t subject to budget caps.

Some Homeland Security Funding Highlights … (BGOV)

  • BORDER WALL “The Homeland Security Department wouldn’t get any new funding for a border wall and would be barred from implementing many of the Trump administration’s immigration and detention policies. … The president requested $2 billion to construct 82 miles of border barriers in fiscal 2021.
  • BORDER AGENTS The measure wouldn’t provide any funding to hire new Border Patrol agents, according to the committee report. The president asked for 750 new agents in fiscal 2021. Customs and Border Protection would receive funding to hire 1,200 new customs officers and 200 new agriculture specialists.
  • IMMIGRATION POLICIES The bill would bar DHS and other agencies from implementing Trump administration policies that:
    • Proposed sweeping changes to the asylum review process …
    • Required some asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases are pending.
    • Adopted certain bilateral and multilateral “third-country” agreements for asylum seekers to stay out of the U.S. while their claims are being adjudicated, etc.”


Another Grim Milestone

WSJ “The number of U.S. coronavirus cases exceeded 4 million on Thursday, as infections double in just six weeks, with testing supplies running short. Florida, California and Tennessee reported single-day records in fatalities on Thursday. Some health authorities in the U.S. are narrowing testing recommendations to those at high risk, in part because test supplies are limited and wait times are getting long.”

We Blew It

Axios “America spent the spring building a bridge to August, spending trillions and shutting down major parts of society. … Instead, we built a pier.
  • We blew it on testing. Quest Diagnostics says its average turnaround time for a COVID-19 test has lengthened to “seven or more days” — decreasing the chance that asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic carriers will self-quarantine.
  • We blew it on schools. Congress allocated $150 billion for state and local governments as part of the CARES Act. But that was aimed at maintaining status quo services in the face of plummeting tax revenue.  There was no money earmarked for schools to buy new safety equipment, or to hire additional teachers for smaller classes. The administration … hasn’t offered detailed plans to protect older teachers or pupils’ family members.
  • We blew it on economics. The CARES Act was bold and bipartisan, a massive stimulus to meet the moment. But it’s running out, without an extension plan in place. Expanded unemployment benefits expire in days. 
  • The bottom line: It didn’t have to be this way.


Crisis That Shocked The World: America’s Response To Covid 19

The NYT writes in an autopsy of April decision-making that President Trump’s effort to shift responsibility for the pandemic to the states was at the heart of “a catastrophic policy blunder” that contributed to “perhaps one of the greatest failures of presidential leadership in generations.”
WaPo “Six months after the coronavirus appeared in America, the nation has failed spectacularly to contain it. The country’s ineffective response has shocked observers around the planet. Many countries have rigorously driven infection rates nearly to zero. In the United States, coronavirus transmission is out of control. The national response is fragmented, shot through with political rancor and culture-war divisiveness. Testing shortcomings that revealed themselves in March have become acute in July, with week-long waits for results leaving the country blind to real-time virus spread and rendering contact tracing nearly irrelevant.
How the world’s richest country got into this dismal situation is a complicated tale that exposes the flaws and fissures in a nation long proud of its ability to meet cataclysmic challenges.The fumbling of the virus was not a fluke: The American coronavirus fiasco has exposed the country’s incoherent leadership, self-defeating political polarization, a lack of investment in public health, and persistent socioeconomic and racial inequities that have left millions of people vulnerable to disease and death.
In this big, sprawling, demographically and culturally diverse nation, the decentralized political structures gave birth to patchwork policies that don’t make sense when applied to a virus that ignores state boundaries and city limits.
While other countries endured some of the same setbacks, few have suffered from all of them simultaneously and catastrophically. If there was a mistake to be made in this pandemic, America has made it. The single biggest miscalculation was rushing to reopen the economy while the virus was still spreading at high rates through much of the country, experts say. The only way to reopen safely, epidemiologists said as far back as early April, was to “crush the curve” — to drive down the rate of viral transmission to the point that new infections were few and far between.”

Campaign 2020

Election In 3 Slides: 2016 Is NOT 2020

Axios “Doug Sosnik, who was the White House political director during President Clinton’s successful re-election race, is out with one of his famous political decks, six weeks out from the start of early voting for president:

Trump is starring in a rerun of his 2016 campaign in a different country than the one that elected him president. Trump changed our politics, but the coronavirus changed our country. Both of these accelerated a new era in American politics.”

“... In an effort to explain away his abysmal poll numbers, Trump makes the case that today he is in the same position that he was in at this time in 2016, and he still won. The problem with that argument is that it’s a complete misreading of the 2020 election. In 2016, voters faced a choice between two candidates. In a re-election campaign, voters will see it as a referendum on Trump’s presidency – one that will long be remembered as the coronavirus election. At some level Trump grasps that the election is about him, but he mistakenly concludes that he’s an asset, not a liability.”
The pandemic’s unprecedented health and economic crises have played out during the most decisive period in the presidential campaign. If history is our guide, the most critical phase of the campaign has already passed. A look back at past presidential campaigns clearly demonstrate that the sitting President’s job approval ratings and the related trendlines at the end of the election year’s second quarter are the best predictors of the election outcome. (See slide above) By that point voters have begun to lock in on their views on the state of the economy and the direction of the country under the leadership of the sitting President.”
Doug says these three slides tell the story of the election. To See The Full Political Deck, CLICK HERE.

The Money Race

NYT “Former VP Joe Biden had roughly 400,000 more individual donors than President Trump in the last three months, the latest evidence of Mr. Biden’s newfound financial strength, according to a NYT analysis of Federal Election Commission data.
This analysis, covering the second quarter of 2020, is based on fund-raising records disclosed recently by the campaigns and by WinRed and ActBlue, online fund-raising platforms that process donations for Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden, respectively.
Politico “Wait a second … How can the White House push schools across the country to open, vowing it’s safe to gather, while at the same time cancel the Republican convention in Jacksonville, Fla., saying it’s not safe to gather?

From Massive Convention Bash To No Party At All …

Politico “On Wednesday, President Trump convened his top political advisers … to consider a move that would have been unthinkable just a few weeks ago: Cancel his party’s upcoming convention in Jacksonville, FL. By Thursday … he had made up his mind: It was a no-go. It was a stunning reversal for an optics-obsessed president, who’d been so adamant about a massive convention that he moved it from Charlotte, N.C. to Florida to ensure it would happen. … More importantly, the announcement showed that Trump finally understood that his blasé approach to the pandemic was dragging down his reelection hopes.”

Wall Street’s “Biden Blue Portfolio”

Axios Markets “Wall Street analysts see a rising probability of a “blue wave” Democratic sweep of the House, Senate and presidency.”

Investors have been pricing in a Biden win for weeks. Now analysts at many top firms are preparing for a like-minded Congress. Why it matters: With a blue wave, Joe Biden could realistically enact major policy shifts that include higher taxes, climate reform and health care spending. That’s got investors designing what … Yardeni Research calls a “Biden Blue portfolio.” “Winners in a blue wave,” Yardeni writes to clients, “likely would be domestic energy-efficient technologies (e.g., wind and solar), railroads, homebuilders, building contractors, and engineers, manufacturers and material suppliers, broadband network providers, utilities, autos, medical suppliers, and innovative technologies (e.g., artificial intelligence).”

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