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Washington Report: July 10, 2020 … “It Feels Like Mid-March… Again”

10 Jul 2020

Washington Report: July 10, 2020 … “It Feels Like Mid-March… Again”

Hill Update … Spending Bills … Can Trump Bully Schools Into Reopening? … It’s Virus Math, Stupid … Do Americans Understand How Badly They’re Doing? … McConnell Goes Full Mask … This Season On SCOTUS … Dem Tsunami … Unintended Consequences of Demonizing Mail In Ballots … RSVPs To Republican Convention … What Would Dr. Fauci Do? … Aftermath of Tulsa Rally A Shocker … “Please Scream Inside Your Heart” … and other news of the week.
Happy Friday, there are 116 DAYS until Election Day.
Best,
JR
Joyce Rubenstein
Capstone National Partners
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Phase 4/5 Update

“As soon as the Senate gets back … on a bipartisan basis … it will be our priority to make sure between the 20th and the end of the month that we pass the next [coronavirus aid] legislation.”
– Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on CNBC
BACK-OF-THE-NAPKIN MATH: 11 DAYS to put this bill together. It is expected to be more contentious than the last!
SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI suggested that she didn’t make much of the $1 trillion goal from Republicans, indicating it was a starting point. (Politico)

On The Hill: Appropriations

The House Appropriations Committee set top-line spending levels for all 12 of its fiscal 2021 government funding bills. The panel advanced the spending allocations yesterday on a 29-21 vote.
  • The committee also advanced the spending bill for the State Department and foreign operations programs that would require the administration to send $200 million to the World Health Organization. The bill would provide $66 billion in discretionary funding, an $8.5 billion increase over fiscal 2020. The measure also would provide $10 billion for a variety of coronavirus-related emergency programs.
MEANWHILE … Exit WHO
“The U.S. has formally notified the World Health Organization it will withdraw from the United Nations agency … a move critics say will hamper the international fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and sap the U.S. of global influence. “The exit won’t take effect until July 2021, leaving it contingent on Mr. Trump’s re-election. His rival for the White House, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, said Tuesday the U.S. would remain a member if he wins.”
MORE Budget & Appropriations News
House Passes Relief Fix for Non-Profit Groups, Local Governments: The House cleared a measure (S. 4209) passed by the Senate to provide coronavirus relief to non-profit groups and state, local and tribal governments. The bill now goes to Trump, who is expected to sign it into law.
Bipartisan Bill Would Bolster Immigration Office:  … legislation to provide $1.2 billion in emergency supplemental funding to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services through the end of 2020. USCIS said last month that about two-thirds of employees will be furloughed in August if Congress doesn’t provide more money. The agency relies on fees, and has seen a 50% drop in revenue during the coronavirus pandemic.”
Raise Housing Cap: Federal spending for new public housing units would be allowed for the first time in more than 20 years under House Democrats’ infrastructure legislation.
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Trump Tries To Bully Schools (K-12 and Colleges) Into Reopening

WaPo “President Trump on Wednesday intensified his demand that schools fully reopen this fall, slamming the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pressuring it to loosen guidance and threatening to cut funding for schools that do not open. The CDC was already planning to issue new guidelines for schools in the coming days. But Vice President Pence on Wednesday explicitly tied the effort to Trump’s ire.  The White House is pressing the case that opening school is necessary for students’ academic and social-emotional well-being, and Trump’s allies see a political imperative in convincing Americans that the nation has recovered from the coronavirus crisis.The administration is finding it nearly impossible to control the situation, with the president’s views often at odds with those of his health advisers, and decision-making resting with 50 states, more than 13,000 school districts and thousands of colleges and universities.”
They’re applying the same pressure to colleges and universities. The Trump administration announced this week that international students in the United States must take in-person classes this fall or they will have to leave the country or transfer to another college — a decision that is being roundly criticized by schools, legislators, education groups and others. …  Some 1 million international students attend U.S. colleges and universities annually, contributing greatly to this country’s intellectual and cultural vibrancy. They also yield an estimated economic impact of $41 billion and support more than 450,000 U.S. jobs.
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It’s Virus Math, Stupid

NYT … the percent change in average daily cases since states reopened (7-day rolling average):

It Feels Like Mid-March In America Again

Axios “The coronavirus is surging, deaths are climbing and the country is dreading a fresh wave of disruptions, less than four months since the first round started. The big picture: Lingering under all the happy talk of future plans is the reality of this virus — which thrives in potential super-spreader conditions like mass gatherings.

  • You see it in the sports reopening plans, especially for fans who want to attend games this fall. Colleges keep having to delay their training camps, and conferences are preparing for the possibility of no sports this fall.
  • You see it in the school reopening plans, with K-12 and higher education sounding hopeful but facing growing staff revolts.
  • You can see it in the Sun Belt: While governors aren’t giving in to a complete state closure like the first time around, many with hotspot areas have reversed or paused reopening policies that could encourage mass gatherings.
  • You even see it far in the future, where the Tokyo 2021 Olympics planners insist the games will start in July of next year — but the Japanese public overwhelmingly disagrees, the AP reports. A recent poll found 77% believe the games can’t be held next year.”
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Do Americans Understand How Badly They’re Doing?

AFTER A BRIEF HIATUS, the coronavirus is now back as the indisputable fact of life in American politics. Much as everyone would like to wish it away, the virus does not care if you are sick of restrictions, eager to get back to your old habits or anxious to focus on other topics.
Atlantic … From a transatlantic commuter, living in France … “I returned to Paris with my family three months after President Emmanuel Macron had ordered one of the world’s most aggressive national quarantines, and one month after France had begun to ease itself out of it. When we exited the Gare Montparnasse into the late-spring glare, after a season tucked away in a rural village with more cows than people as neighbors, it was jarring to be thrust back into the world as we’d previously known it, to see those café terraces overflowing again with smiling faces. …  America, however, is an utter disaster. Texas, Florida, and Arizona are the newest hubs of contagion, having apparently learned nothing from the other countries and states that previously experienced surges in cases. I stared at my phone in disbelief when the musician Rosanne Cash wrote on Twitter that her daughter had been called a “liberal pussy!” in Nashville for wearing a mask to buy groceries. That insult succinctly conveys the crux of the problem. American leadership has politicized the pandemic instead of trying to fight it. I see no preparedness, no coordinated top-down leadership of the sort we’ve enjoyed in Europe. I see only empty posturing, the sad spectacle of the president refusing to wear a mask, just to own the libs. What an astonishing self-inflicted wound.”

McConnell Goes Full Mask

AP “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is emerging as the GOP’s mask spokesman, proselytizing about the importance of wearing a face covering during the pandemic.”

Grim Projection: 200,000 dead by Election Day“

Politico “It took just four weeks for the U.S. to jump from 2 million coronavirus infections to the 3 million mark. Most forecasters now say that, as case counts accelerate at a record pace, it will likely take even less time to surpass 4 million.”
NYT “As President Trump continued to press for a broader reopening of the United States, the country set another record for new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, with more than 59,400 infections announced, according to a New York Times database. It was the fifth national record set in nine days. The previous record, 56,567, was reported on Friday. … the virus continued its resurgence in the West and the South. At least five states — Missouri, Texas, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia — set single-day records for new infections on Wednesday.”

And Where Is Dr. Fauci?

Financial Times “Fauci last saw Trump in person at the White House on June 2 — and says he has not briefed the president for at least two months. While Trump holds potential superspreader events, Fauci meets with the task force run by the vice-president. He says he is ‘sure’ that his messages are passed along — but Trump is evidently not listening. On July 4, the president declared that 99 per cent of Covid-19 cases were ‘harmless’. So I ask Fauci: ‘Is Trump wrong?’

“He chuckles, deflecting by calling it the ‘famous question’. Fauci tries to account for it as an accidental error, rather than part of a pattern of the president playing down the pandemic. ‘I’m trying to figure out where the president got that number. What I think happened is that someone told him that the general mortality is about 1 per cent. And he interpreted, therefore, that 99 per cent is not a problem, when that’s obviously not the case,’ he says.”

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This Season On SCOTUS

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theSkimm “On its last day before summer recess, the Supreme Court issued long-awaited rulings. On? President Trump’s financial records. Specifically, over subpoenas from a prosecutor and Congress to get access to them. Here’s how they ruled:

On one request: The Supreme Court cleared the way for Trump’s financial records to be released to NY prosecutors. Last year, Manhattan’s DA subpoenaed his financials in an investigation into alleged hush-money payments to two women (remember Stormy Daniels?). But Trump said he didn’t need to hand anything over because he has presidential immunity. The Supremes disagreed, with Chief Justice John Roberts saying “no citizen, not even the president” is above a criminal investigation.

On another: The Supreme Court ruled that Congress (and the public) could not see Trump’s financial records…for now. Reminder: House Democrats have been looking into whether Trump lied on his financial records to reduce his taxes. But Trump has claimed he can’t release his tax returns because he’s under audit by the IRS (he can). Now, the Supremes are saying House Dems may have overreached on this one. And sent the case back to the lower courts.

AND … they also ruled yesterday that state authorities do not have the right to prosecute Native Americans on tribal land. Gorsuch, a Westerner who has sided with tribes in previous cases, joined the four liberal justices in the 5-to-4 decision.
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The majority conservative court had a lot on its plate for the first half of 2020. Here are the (very brief) highlights for this term:
Victories for liberals: That includes blocking the Trump admin’s attempt to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Protecting LGBTQ+ people in the workplace. And striking down a Louisiana law that would have added regulations to abortion clinics there.

Victories for conservatives: The court prioritized religious freedom in a few cases. Like ruling that religious schools cannot be exempt from a tax credit. And that employers can opt out of birth control coverage. Also, that religious institutions don’t have to follow federal discrimination laws.

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Campaign 2020

Dem Tsunami?
Cook Political Report’s Amy Walter “This election is looking more like a Democratic tsunami than simply a Blue wave. President Trump, mired in some of the lowest job approval ratings of his presidency, is trailing Biden by significant margins in key battleground states like Pennsylvania (8 points), Michigan (9 points), and Wisconsin (9 points). He’s even running behind Biden in his firewall states of Florida and North Carolina. “Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Nebraska’s 2nd district move from Toss Up to Lean Democrat. Maine, once in Lean Democrat, moves to the safer Likely Democratic category. Georgia has joined Arizona, North Carolina and Florida in the Toss Up column, although, at this point, Biden would be slightly favored to win at least Arizona and Florida. Maine’s 2nd district has moved from Likely Republican to a more competitive Lean Republican. These moves alone push Biden over the 270 electoral vote threshold (to 279).”
TODAY An ABC News/Ipsos poll shows 67% disapprove of Trump’s handling of COVID-19 — a new low over four months’ worth of polling — and an equal share disapprove of his handling of race relations.
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Republican Women
Politico “Senate Republicans could lose nearly half of the women currently in their caucus come November after recently making painstaking gains — the latest potential blow to the party in the Trump era.

“Out of nine Senate GOP women serving, four face highly competitive races this year in Arizona, Maine, Georgia and Iowa. It’s a dynamic that exists in part because Republicans have had some success in chipping away at the gender gap in Congress: the Senate GOP currently has an all-time high of women after nearly doubling the number of women in its conference since 2016. House Republicans have also enhanced their recruitment efforts after seeing their ranks shrink in 2018. … But Republicans face a challenging electoral environment up and down the ballot, particularly as suburban female voters have turned away from the party in droves out of antipathy for President Donald Trump. Losing those races would be a setback for the party’s efforts to broaden its representation — and to keep the Senate majority.

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Raising and Spending Money
DEMOCRATIC CHALLENGERS are posting massive fundraising numbers. JAIME HARRISON, the Democrat running against Sen. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-S.C.), announced he raised $13.9 million in the second quarter of 2020. STEVE BULLOCK running against Sen. STEVE DAINES, raised $7.7 million in Montana, SARA GIDEON, running against Sen. SUSAN COLLINS, raised $9 million, and CAL CUNNINGHAM, running against Sen. Thom Tillis, raised $7.4 million in North Carolina. AND — GOP CHALLENGER JOHN JAMES outraised Sen. GARY PETERS (D-Mich.) in Q2, $6.4 million to $5.2 million.
Politico “In 12 races that will determine the next Senate majority, Democrats have spent roughly $30 million more on the airwaves than their Republican counterparts, according to a CNN review of data from Kantar’s Campaign Media Analysis. In total, Democrats — including campaigns and outside groups — have spent $109 million on television, radio and digital advertisements, compared with $79 million for Republicans since the beginning of the election cycle last year, the records show.”
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Unintended Consequences
WaPo “President Trump’s relentless attacks on the security of mail voting are driving suspicion among GOP voters toward absentee ballots — a dynamic alarming Republican strategists, who say it could undercut their own candidates, including Trump himself. … GOP campaigns around the country are hearing from more and more Republican voters who say they do not trust absentee ballots, according to multiple strategists. In one particularly vivid example, a group of Michigan voters held a public burning of their absentee ballot applications last month. The growing Republican antagonism toward voting by mail comes even as the Trump campaign is launching a major absentee-ballot program in every competitive state, according to multiple campaign advisers — a delicate balancing act, considering what one strategist described as the president’s ‘imprecision’ on the subject.”

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Campaigns

Speaking of Campaigns … check out the latest from Capstone CEO, John Rogers … “What Every Leader Needs to Become a Campaign Leader. ” Click here for the article in ‘Real Leader.’ 
“Trying to navigate how to help your kids through online learning while still meeting work deadlines? That’s a campaign. Figuring out how to get groceries safely during a pandemic? That’s also a campaign. Restarting the economy; educating the public on the dangers of COVID- 19: campaigns. Humans have been running them our entire existence, hunting, and gathering to stay alive.
– John Rogers
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Conventions

Politico “Despite what President Trump wants, the idea of a large-scale, celebratory 2020 political convention is a fantasy.  If you’re a company, a law firm or a lobby shop, why would you ever consider putting any money behind a political convention this year? Would you want your logo anywhere near Jacksonville, FL, or Milwaukee during Covid-19? Would you want your executives anywhere close to a gathering that has a chance to be a super-spreading event? Would you throw a party? You’d have to be nuts.”

Republican Senators RSVP … “NO”
So far, SIX Senate Republicans taking a pass on the RNC convention this summer: SUSAN COLLINS (R-Maine); LISA MURKOWSKI (R-Alaska); MITT ROMNEY (R-Utah); CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-Iowa) and LA MAR ALEXANDER (R-Tenn.) and retiring Kansas Republican PAT ROBERTS.  AND… THIS “Appearing in Kentucky, Senate Majority Leader MITCH MCCONNELL was asked if he would be attending the convention in Jacksonville this summer. He said he didn’t have any idea whether the event would even be happening.”

Perhaps most importantly: “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a close Trump ally, refused to say on Tuesday whether he would lift a rule mandating that indoor gatherings stay under 50 percent capacity — which would hold the Jacksonville convention to 7,500 people.”
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Democratic Convention:  “What Would Dr. Fauci Do?”
Politico “First came the announcement of a downsized convention in Milwaukee that delegates were urged not to attend in person. Now, Democrats are questioning whether even gathering in smaller events throughout the country as an alternative is a plausible option after a new surge of Covid-19 cases. With infection rates exploding in several states, some elected officials, state party leaders and rank-and-file members of the Democratic National Committee are skeptical about the proposed idea of ‘mini-conventions’ across the nation — regional satellite sites for delegates and party leaders, particularly in battleground states.

“‘We should think, “What would Dr. Fauci do?” And I doubt Dr. Fauci would say go ahead and have mini-conventions across the country,’ said Rep. Ro Khanna, who is co-chairing the California delegation.

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Biden Wants To ‘Build Back Better’

“Joe Biden introduced a New Deal-like economic agenda, “Build Back Better,” that he touted as the most aggressive government investment in the U.S. economy since World War II, AP writes from Dunmore (get it?), Pa.

Why it matters: Biden’s shift to the economy meets Trump on turf the president had seen as his strength before the pandemic. Now, Biden and his aides believe the issue is an all-encompassing opening that gives Democrats avenues to attack Trump on multiple fronts while explaining their own governing vision for the country. Biden called for a $400 billion, four-year increase in government purchasing of U.S.-based goods and services, plus $300 billion in new research and development in U.S. technology firms. He proposed tightening current “Buy American” laws that are intended to benefit U.S. firms but that government agencies can circumvent. The procurement overhaul is based on ideas Biden has discussed with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who offered similar proposals during the Democratic primary. Those moves would create 5 million new jobs, Biden said.”

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Wall Street Journal Front Page – 7.9.2020
“Please scream inside your heart” — What a Japanese theme park is asking its riders to do to prevent spreading coronavirus.”
As if we haven’t been doing that all of 2020.
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Pioneer Of The Polished Prepster Files Chapter 11

WSJ “Brooks Brothers, founded in 1818, filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday. The retailer, which generated more than $991 million in sales last year, has more than 200 stores in North America and 500 worldwide. It has already decided to close roughly 51 stores, a decision it attributes to the pandemic.”

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