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Washington Report: June 26, 2020 … “Reopening Grinds To A Halt”
26 Jun 2020

Washington Report: June 26, 2020 … “Reopening Grinds To A Halt”

Congress Is Posied To Do Nothing On Police Reform. Again … NDAA … ACA Rising … Trump’s Team Asks Supremes To Overturn ACA … Senate Republicans Nightmare … America’s Reopening Grinds To A Halt … Split-Screen Pandemic … The Anti-Mask Madness … Conventions:  Restraint V. Bravado … and other news of the week.
Happy Friday, there are 130 DAYS until Election Day.
Joyce Rubenstein
Capstone National Partners
Another 1.5 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday, It’s the 14th week in a row that the figure has topped one million.

Police Reform?

Politico “As the United States faces its biggest crisis over civil rights in decades, Congress is poised to do nothing. Again.
“What could have been a searing, soul-searching moment where America’s political leaders helped establish a new national accord on race and the role of police in society has instead devolved into a frenzy of political posturing, campaign sloganeering and ugly partisan fights. The House on Thursday passed a sweeping police reform bill that would ban chokeholds, end the use of ‘no-knock’ warrants, create a national registry for officers accused of misconduct, and make it easier to prosecute officers. Yet Democrats picked up only a few GOP votes, guaranteeing the proposal has no chance of moving in the Senate.
“And the Senate can’t even agree to begin debate on a police reform bill, with Democrats blocking efforts to take up a proposal drafted by Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.), one of only two Black Republicans on Capitol Hill. THE WHITE HOUSE spent much of Thursday on Capitol Hill, trying to convince Republicans to vote against the House Dem bill. Three Republicans voted for it: Reps. Will Hurd (TX), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA) and Fred Upton (MI).”


BGov “The Pentagon and other defense programs would be authorized to receive $740.5 billion in fiscal 2021 under S. 4049, the National Defense Authorization Act approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee.

DOD funding under the measure would include $636.4 billion subject to the defense spending cap and $69 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations purposes, which doesn’t count against the cap. The bill also would authorize $25.9 billion for Energy Department programs and $9.2 billion for other programs that contribute to the total. PROCUREMENT The measure would authorize a total of $139 billion in fiscal 2021 for procurement programs, which would be $3.23 billion more than requested. The total would include $134 billion in base funding and $5 billion in OCO funds.”


ACA Rising

WaPo “… nearly half a million Americans turned to the ACA in April and May amid covid-19′s economic devastation. According to the Thursday report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 487,000 Americans took advantage of the special enrollment period on after losing their healthcare plans, likely among the millions of Americans who lost their jobs during the pandemic. The numbers mark a 46 percent increase from enrollments in April and May 2019.

Seems Like A Good Time To Deny 23 Million People Healthcare

WaPo “The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court late on Thursday to overturn the Affordable Care Act (ACA), telling the court that “the entire ACA must fall.” The administration’s argument comes as … SEE ABOVE. The administration’s brief was filed in support of a challenge to the ACA by a coalition of Republican attorneys general, following through on Trump’s pledge last month to overturn President Obama’s landmark healthcare legislation.
Nightmare For Senate Republicans
The 82-page brief submitted by Trump’s representatives states crisply that the president wants to get rid of every provision of the Affordable Care Act. Solicitor General Noel Francisco packs in a string of rhetorical flourishes that may draw cheers at a Federalist Society legal conference but will inevitably appear as factual citations to back up attack ads that Democrats plan to run this fall against vulnerable Senate Republicans, in a redux of the messaging that proved so potent in the 2018 midterms.
The Trump team’s core argument is that every Republican who voted for the tax cuts three years ago knowingly voted to destroy the 2010 law in its entirely, not just to get rid of the mandate that individuals buy health insurance. This brief can be used as a cudgel to attack GOP Sens. Thom Tillis (N.C.), Joni Ernst (Iowa) and David Perdue (Ga.), who separately each voted to repeal the underlying law. Recent polls show those three senators are locked in tight races as they seek second terms. Appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), who trails Democratic challenger Mark Kelly in multiple polls, and Susan Collins (R-Maine) also voted for the tax bill (McSally as a member of the House, Collins in the Senate).

D.C. Statehood

WaPo “For the first time since the establishment of the District of Columbia 230 years ago, the House of Representatives voted to make the city the nation’s 51st state, a change that supporters say would right historic wrongs. The vote, which fell along party lines, comes as the United States grapples with systemic racism that D.C. officials say has led to the disenfranchisement of the 700,000 residents of the nation’s capital. The Trump administration opposes D.C. statehood, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he won’t allow a vote on the bill.”

America’s Reopening Grinds To A Halt

Axios “America’s great economic reopening is hitting a major snag, just like the public health experts warned.
Anti-Mask Madness Face masks are essential to slowing the coronavirus’ spread, but they have become politicized in recent months. Wearing face masks “could result in a large reduction in risk of infection,” according to a recent review of 172 studies. But conservatives who prize individual autonomy over social responsibility experience “a massive pushback of psychological resistance” when presented with mask mandates, psychology professor Steven Taylor told Axios.  This is partly a failure by public health experts. CDC guidance has flip-flopped on wearing masks during the pandemic, and white lies meant to preserve PPE for health workers has backfired big time.”
WaPo “State health departments reported 38,115 new infections on Wednesday, the highest single-day caseload in the United States since the pandemic began. As for the total, true number of infections, CDC Director Robert Redfield said Thursday: “Our best estimate right now is that for every case that’s reported, there actually are 10 other infections. (that equals 23 MILLION cases.)”  The new spike was caused by a rush to reopen without proper safety measures in place, infectious-disease experts say, and the push to do so, even as cases climb, sends a dangerous and inaccurate message.
TOTAL REPORTED CASES of coronavirus in the U.S.: 2.37 million; death toll: 121,809.
TEXAS PAUSE The outbreak is growing increasingly worse in Texas, and Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced the state would delay moving into its next reopening phase as health officials there struggle to contain infections and hospitalizations. The intensive care unit at Texas Medical Center is at 100% capacity because of the influx of covid-19 cases. Abbot issued an executive order to suspend elective surgeries at hospitals in Bexar, Dallas, Harris and Travis counties to ensure room for coronavirus patients.

FLORIDA is reporting 8,942 new covid-19 cases on Friday, blowing past its single-day high of 5,511 set on Wednesday. It is the 19th day in a row the state has hit a new average high. Average cases are now up about 77% from a week ago, and 526% since Memorial Day. Florida also announced Friday morning that bars must close immediately, a move echoed in Texas, a state also dealing with a surge in cases and nearing its hospital bed capacity.

As cases and hospitalizations surge in some states, deaths have not been rising with the trend. It’s something that health experts have taken some solace in, but it may only be a matter of time. The death toll is likely to rise over the next several weeks, experts say.”


America’s Dissonant Response To The Pandemic

WaPo “Americans are living through a split-screen pandemic:

“Top political officials in Florida, Arizona, Texas and numerous other states are grappling with a rapid surge in coronavirus cases, facing the threat of an out-of-control outbreak that washes over their citizens and overwhelms their health care systems.

Meanwhile, “Top political officials in the White House say it’s business as usual from their perspective. President Donald Trump and his top aides sought Thursday to minimize the threat of the coronavirus to the public’s health and the U.S. economy despite alarms blaring across two dozen states — including many overseen by Trump-friendly leaders. Aides insisted there would be no change in White House strategy to fight the pandemic, and no additional money or new resources given to states dealing with spikes in cases.”


The Surge Is Real

Axios “The pandemic is getting dramatically worse in almost every corner of the U.S.”

Outrages Of The Week (a new weekly addition)

  • VP Pence says all 50 states “are opening up safely and responsibly” … crediting President Trump’s leadership in addressing the virus. [See Above]
  • The city of Phoenix [had] passed a law requiring face masks to be worn in public to curb the spread of the deadly virus, but the mayor said it would not be enforced at Trump’s rally in a 3,000-seat megachurch.
  • As coronavirus cases surge, top Republicans urge masks. Trump, though, still refuses.
  • President Trump is headlining a massive fireworks display at Mount Rushmore on July 3, despite a decade-long ban on pyrotechnics at the iconic spot. Experts worry two things could spread: virus and wildfire. The National Park Service stopped staging pyrotechnics at Mount Rushmore in 2010 out of concern that it could ignite wildfires under drought conditions. The memorial is surrounded by 1,200 acres of forested lands.
  • Thanks Elon. Tesla gave workers permission to stay home rather than risk getting covid-19. Then it sent termination notices.

British-Style “Social Distancing”

WaPo “Britain’s health secretary, Matt Hancock, said the government has the power to close beaches in England if coronavirus infections rise as a result of people defying social distancing measures at seaside towns during the current heat wave. As temps climbed to a rare 92, at seaside resorts such as Bournemouth, where a “major incident” was declared Thursday as half a million people descended on its beach to soak up the sun. The scenes stunned many around the world who voiced concerns over a second wave in Britain — the worst-hit country in Europe, with more than 43,000 recorded deaths.”

Campaign 2020

PP (Presidential Polls)

N.Y. Times/Siena swing-state polls out Thursday show a slaughter: Joe Biden beats President Trump by 11 points in Michigan … 11 points in Wisconsin … 10 points in Pennsylvania … 9 points in N.C. … 7 points in Arizona … 6 points in Florida. Why it matters: Trump won all six of those states in 2016. ALSO: Marquette poll of Wisconsin: JOE BIDEN 49, DONALD TRUMP 41

“It’s Been A Bad Couple Of Weeks”

Politico “A number of top Republicans told CNN that Trump needs to change course quickly — even as they readily acknowledge he has never been prone to take such advice. ‘He’s good with the base,’ Senate Majority Whip John Thune, a South Dakota Republican, said Wednesday. ‘… the people who are going to decide in November are the people in the middle, and I think they want the President at a time like this … to strike a more empathetic tone.’ Thune later added: ‘It’ll probably require not only a message that deals with substantive policy, but I think a message that conveys perhaps a different tone.’

Does Trump Know Why He Wants Another Term?

Politico “Sean Hannity asked President Trump at a Fox News town hall in Green Bay, WI: “What’s at stake in this election as you compare and contrast, and what are your top priority items for a second term?” This is as standard a question as a sitting president can get — why should we give you another four years, and compare yourself to your opponent.
TRUMP RESPONSE: “Well, one of the things that will be really great, you know, the word experience is still good. I always say talent is more important than experience. I’ve always said that. But the word experience is a very important word. It’s a very important meaning. I never did this before — I never slept over in Washington. I was in Washington I think 17 times, all of the sudden, I’m the president of the United States. You know the story, I’m riding down Pennsylvania Avenue with our first lady and I say, ‘This is great.’ But I didn’t know very many people in Washington, it wasn’t my thing.
“I WAS FROM MANHATTAN, from New York. Now I know everybody. And I have great people in the administration. You make some mistakes, like you know an idiot like Bolton, all he wanted to do is drop bombs on everybody. You don’t have to drop bombs on everybody. You don’t have to kill people.”
Does Trump have any idea why he wants another term in office? The crux of this answer is that he knows people in D.C. now — as in, the first four years were practice? Huh?
WSJ Editorial Board: “As of now Mr. Trump has no second-term agenda, or even a message beyond four more years of himself. His recent events in Tulsa and Arizona were dominated by personal grievances. He resorted to his familiar themes from 2016 like reducing immigration and denouncing the press, but he offered nothing for those who aren’t already persuaded.”

The Primaries

Axios “There are plenty of votes left to be counted, but a few trend lines are worthy of your time:

  • The AOC-backed Justice Democrats showed considerable strength.
  • President Trump’s endorsement wasn’t worth its weight in gold.
  • Rhe absentee balloting process will require a reset in expectations.

In New York’s Democratic primaries,

  • First-time candidate — middle school principal Jamaal Bowman — who was backed by AOC defeated 16-term Rep. Eliot Engel of New York’s 16th CD in a major upset.
  • 14-term Rep. Carolyn Maloney has a narrow lead

Between the lines: The New York races results were / are delayed because of absentee ballots, which are in huge demand because of COVID-19. Expect a similar trend in November, and don’t be surprised if there isn’t a winner on election night, or even the day after.”


Oh, What A Night

Axios “Wednesday, President Obama joined a Biden campaign event for the first time — a virtual fundraiser that instantly became the campaign’s biggest single haul, with 175,000 guests and $7.6 million in donations.

Meanwhile, Trump visited Arizona, a swing state where he’s now in trouble, for a photo-op at his “unclimbable” border wall. At a church in Phoenix, he addressed a massive mask-free gathering of young supporters at an indoor hall.”


Democrats Are Downsizing

Politico “We are roughly two months ahead of the party’s nominating conventions, and, like with all else in today’s politics, Democrats and Republicans are employing diametrically different strategies. REPUBLICANS plan to hold their convention in Jacksonville, Fla., and they are inviting their donors and poobahs for an event celebrating President Trump. DEMOCRATS ARE DOWNSIZING significantly. They are saying they will “anchor” their 2020 convention in Milwaukee, but they are urging people not to come, and suggesting there will be satellite events elsewhere around America.
Axios “…”[S]tate delegations should not plan to travel to Milwaukee and should plan to conduct their official convention business remotely,” the DNCC said. More details: The program will be shorter — 8 to 11 p.m. ET over four nights, instead of starting at the traditional 4 or 5 p.m. There’ll be fewer speeches, with a mix of live and taped segments from around the country. The emphasis will be on storytelling — what President Trump has done vs. what America could be under Joe Biden. It’ll be billed as a convention for all Americans, with outreach to people who supported Bernie Sanders — and Trump 2016 voters who regret it.
Between the lines: Both parties are playing up the optical contrast between their conventions, with Trump trying to send a comeback message via a massive gathering (now in Jacksonville) with pre-pandemic exuberance. So the conventions — held back-to-back in the third and fourth weeks of August, with Dems first — will be constraint vs. bravado, a proxy for Trump vs. Biden.”

Bye-Bye Segway

The Segway, the two-wheeled personal transporter touted as a revolution back in 1999, is ending production, AP reports.

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