On-the-Ground at the Capitol … Building The Plane As You Fly … Vocabulary Word Of The Week: Panglossian (see below) … Finally, Some Action … Looks Like A Deal .(stay tuned) … A Grand Experiment — Everything Remote … The 2020 Election Goes Virutal … Only Last Tuesday, Super Tuesday II … In Pursuit Of The Truth … and other news of the week.
Yes, it really IS Friday, the 13th!
Note To Washington Report Readers …
So many of our clients and friends have asked us ‘what’s happening on Capitol Hill?’ Words that come to mind — ‘adapting to change’ and ‘fluid.’
Per Will Stone, Capstone’s President who is ‘On-the-Ground’ at the Capitol …
“There’s a great deal of fear and anxiety among younger congressional staff who weren’t around for 9/11 and the anthrax attack, when the House and Senate office buildings were closed. Back then, staffers created makeshift offices inside the Capitol building and crafted a supplemental bill so Congress could respond to the crisis. Members and Senators of both parties worked together and demonstrated a strong display of unity to help the country recover.
That spirit is prevailing in Congress today — staffers are learning to overcoming their worries and move forward.
Yesterday the House office building was largely empty of tourists, lobbyists and non-staff. Clearly, those who were in their offices understood the need for immediate action by Congress. This should result in Congress passing a supplemental appropriations bill — likely today.The Senate has already called off a recess next week to vote on the measure.
As well, I’m seeing on-going changes as to how Congress interacts with the public as we all adapt to “social distancing” to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Hill offices are now largely closed to non-staff and for the time being, many offices are having staff work from home.
At Capstone, we’ve been working to shift face-to-face meetings on the Hill to virtual communications – FaceTime and Skype and of course, old tech, conference calls. Hill staff is appreciative of these efforts. It’s essential to know that Congress is still working and engaged on many fronts, just adapting to the new reality of communicating in these strange times.
We will be / or have already been in contact with many of you to strategize on ways to keep your issues moving forward. In the meantime, follow the advice of Winston Churchill: keep calm and carry on.”
Building The Plane As You Fly
theSkimm “We’re in strange territory. As the coronavirus spreads around the world, it’s rattled entire industries, economies, and countries. Many are still wrapping their heads around what’s happening. Here’s a recap of this week alone:
The economy…as in stock markets have been struggling. The S&P 500 had to hit ‘pause’ twice this week. Major indexes entered a bear market for the first time in over a decade. An oil price war isn’t helping. Now, the Fed is pumping in $1.5 trillion into financial markets to try to curb the economic fallout.
The US gov’s response…as in it’s coming after critical delays. Only 11,079 coronavirus tests have been conducted so far. But the admin has updates: Starting tonight, most non-US citizens who’ve been to Europe recently will be barred from entering the country. The Trump admin is also working on a stimulus package (think: low-interest loans and payroll tax relief) to help businesses and employees impacted by the virus. The Senate canceled a planned recess next week to vote on the House’s coronavirus relief bill, which is still in the works.
Social distancing…as in a variety of industries are hitting pause or canceling large-events.
THAT’S A LOT. A lot has changed this week, as governments, communities, and individuals grapple with the outbreak. All signs indicate it will continue to spread. Knowing that, the best we can do is stay measured and take steps to prepare.”
NYT “For a president who lives in the moment, rarely planning too far ahead, the coronavirus has proved to be a leadership challenge he was not prepared for either. The outbreak that has rattled the nation does not respond to Mr. Trump’s favorite instruments of power: It cannot be cowed by Twitter posts, it cannot be shot down by drones, it cannot be overcome by party solidarity, it cannot be overpowered by campaign rally chants.
“Mr. Trump, who is at his strongest politically when he has a human enemy to attack, has seemed less certain of how to take on an invisible killer. The role of calming natural leader is not one that has come easily as he struggles to find the balance between public reassurance and Panglossian dismissiveness. He has predicted that the virus will ‘miraculously’ disappear on its own with warmer weather, suggested a vaccine will be available soon and insisted anyone who wants to be tested can be — all overstated or inaccurate.
VOCABULARY WORD OF THE WEEK: Panglossian – A person who is optimistic regardless of circumstances.
Finally, Some Action
Axios “After several months of delays, the federal government is treating coronavirus like a dire threat.
NYT “Stocks rallied Friday, rebounding from their worst day since the Black Monday crash of 1987, after President Trump said leaders of private companies in the United States had agreed to help with efforts to test for the coronavirus, and declared a national emergency that would free $50 billion in funding for states and territories to fight the epidemic. The S&P 500 rose nearly 10% Friday, with most of the gains coming as government officials and business executives spoke at a news conference at the White House.
… the administration was working with Google to develop a website to determine whether an individual needs a test — a move aimed at avoiding overwhelming the health system with people who are ill but do not necessarily need to be tested for coronavirus.
… The chief executives of Walmart, Target and Walgreens all said they had agreed to make facilities available for testing.
… he would waive interest on all student loans held by all government agencies.
… the energy secretary would be buying “large quantities of oil” to fill up the country’s strategic reserve.
Axios “Financial markets have been nothing if not inconsistent for the past three weeks, plunging and then rising, and then plunging again, as each day brought new measures to contain the outbreak and new worries that the economy, workers and businesses would take a hit as a result of them. The bottom line: The economic crisis will not abate until we fix the public health crisis.
AND THIS … Looks Like A Deal
Politico “Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that she clinched a deal with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on a large-scale coronavirus response package meant to provide paid leave for workers, expand food aid and support widespread testing for the illness at no cost to patients. The development sent a wave of relief across Capitol Hill, which had been nervously awaiting the results of two days of backroom negotiations. The House is expected to pass the legislation quickly, with the Senate likely to follow suit as early as Monday.” (Stay Tuned, It’s never a deal until it’s signed.)
■ At least seven states and several large school districts moved to close schools for at least two weeks, affecting millions. More are expected.
■ A ban on travel from much of Europe to the U.S. is to begin today at 11:59 p.m. Eastern. The restrictions don’t apply to American citizens but nevertheless caused chaos on Thursday, as panicked passengers tried to leave Europe before they took effect.
■ The White House press secretary said that neither President Trump nor Vice President Mike Pence would be tested after meeting with a Brazilian official who later tested positive. An Australian official who met last week with Attorney General William Barr and Ivanka Trump, Mr. Trump’s daughter and senior adviser, said today that he had the virus.
■ China reported its lowest tally from the virus since January, with eight new infections confirmed in the past 24 hours. With the U.S. struggling to meet coronavirus testing demands, China has tried to become a resource for other nations. On Friday, the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation said they would donate 500,000 testing kits and one million masks to the United States to help it deal with the pandemic. Alibaba is China’s biggest online retailer, and Mr. Ma is the company’s co-founder and former executive chairman.
■ In sports, a day after nearly every major sporting event in the United States had been suspended or canceled because of the coronavirus, it became a question of which sports were on, not which were off. One of the biggest sporting events of the year, the Masters golf tournament, will be postponed, it was announced Friday. The Boston Marathon will be rescheduled for September. The N.B.A., the National Hockey League, Major League Soccer. and Major League Baseball suspended play. And, the N.C.A.A. canceled the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. And looming over all the decisions was the Summer Olympics, still planned to begin as scheduled in Tokyo in late July, even as qualifying events were being canceled around the world.
■ Every Disney theme park will be closed starting this weekend. The company’s cruise line is suspending departures.
■ In NYC Broadway Theaters are going dark for a month and cultural institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim will close temporarily. Late night shows tapped in NYC — Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers — are going dark, until, at least March 30th.
A Grand Experiment … Remote Everything
Axios “Every shutdown by an office, school, restaurant or store is stress-testing our ability to live life without leaving home.
Why it matters: Coronavirus is triggering a grand experiment. Remote work and remote learning have long been buzzwords. But the sudden switch to telecommuting en masse has the potential to accelerate shifts in how work is conducted and the way we think about it. The coronavirus could be the catalyst that gets firms to adopt remote work policies in far greater numbers than we see now, even after the pandemic ends. But it’s not as simple as just closing offices and classrooms. Most companies and universities aren’t built for the virtual world.”
Pandemics Kill Compassion, Too
David Brooks “You may not like who you’re about to become. … Some disasters, like hurricanes and earthquakes, can bring people together, but if history is any judge, pandemics generally drive them apart. These are crises in which social distancing is a virtue. Dread overwhelms the normal bonds of human affection. … Pandemics induce a feeling of enervating fatalism. People realize how little they control their lives. ,,, Pandemics also hit the poor hardest and inflame class divisions. Click here for article.
The Dos and Don’ts Of ‘Social Distancing’
SHOULD YOU CANCEL YOUR DATES, DINNERS OUT, AND GYM SESSIONS? The Atlantic “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidelines for “community mitigation strategies” to limit the spread of COVID-19, which include recommendations for “social distancing”—a term that epidemiologists are using to refer to a conscious effort to reduce close contact between people and hopefully stymie community transmission of the virus. But what exactly does “social distancing” look like? …
If you’re confused about what to do right now, you’re not alone—even these experts occasionally disagreed on the answers to my questions. Check out the guide.
CLICK HERE TO READ ARTICLE.
You Go Katie
WaPo “Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA), in just five minutes, [pried] a promise out of CDC Director Redfield to ensure that coronavirus testing would be free for all Americans. The stunning exchange between the doctor and lawmaker, during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing, led many to credit Porter with potentially saving lives amid the federal government’s uneven response to the pandemic, calling her “brilliant” and a “hero.”
The immediate impact of Porter’s apparent victory is unclear.” … (not a live link)
Campaign Goes Virtual
On Sunday, former VP Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will hit the debate stage at 8pm ET, on CNN. But if you don’t hear applause, that’s because there’ll be no live audience. Due to concerns over the coronavirus, the debate will be held at CNN’s studio in Washington, DC. It’s the first debate since Super Tuesday last week (yes, that was last week), when Biden emerged as the party’s front-runner.”
Only Last Tuesday … Super Tuesday II
DEEP DIVE Vox “Barring some kind of shock twist, Tuesday may well be remembered as the night former Vice President Joe Biden closed in on the Democratic nomination for president. The struggling Sanders campaign badly needed a win in Michigan, the big delegate prize at stake this evening. In theory, it could have been the campaign’s first step toward a comeback — clawing back ground before shifting to states that seemed to favor Biden demographically.
But Biden won Michigan by a clean and seemingly significant margin. That, plus his other swift victories in Missouri and Mississippi has dealt a serious blow to Sanders’s 2020 hopes.
Sanders avoided being swept by winning North Dakota, which offered only 14 delegates, the smallest prize of the six states that voted. Washington state remains tied at 34 percent, as mail-in ballots are counted. Biden also won Idaho, another state Sanders claimed four years ago, which switched from caucuses to a primary.
Here are five other notable factors behind Biden’s win in the Wolverine State:
1. Sanders’s advantage with the white working class has eroded. Biden won among voters who didn’t graduate from college by the same margin (14 points) as he did those who have degrees, according to the exits. Last time, Sanders won white voters in the state by 14 points. Exit polls show Biden led by 11 points among whites this time.
2. Turnout spiked, thanks largely to the suburbs. A key reason that Clinton lost Michigan four years ago was lower-than-expected turnout, especially in the suburbs around Detroit. In 2016, about 1.2 million ballots were cast in the Democratic primary. That rose to an estimated 1.7 million in 2020. This is among the sharpest increases in any of the 23 states that have voted over the last six weeks.
The biggest surge in turnout came in suburban areas like Oakland County outside Detroit, where Democrats also unseated a House Republican in the 2018 midterms. Biden won Oakland County by 22 points, whereas Clinton carried it by 5 points. To understand Biden’s win statewide, it’s equally important to consider that there were about 175,000 Democratic votes cast there in 2016 but more than 250,000 votes this year.
3. Women broke hard for Biden. He won among female voters by 23 points, and they made up 54 percent of the electorate. Men, who accounted for 46 percent of voters, were split more evenly, with 47 percent backing Biden to 43 percent for Sanders. The senator’s team saw this problem coming in their internal polling, and they tried to adjust accordingly. I wrote from Grand Rapids on Monday about how Sanders had sharpened his attacks on Biden’s record related to abortion rights in an unsuccessful effort to prevent women from coalescing behind Biden.
4. Biden’s firewall among African American voters held. He won black voters by 39 points, with higher turnout in urban Detroit. In Mississippi, black voters made up almost two-thirds of the electorate, with more than 8 in 10 going for Biden. In Missouri, Biden won 3 of 4 black voters.
5. College students didn’t turn out in force for Sanders. Biden beat Sanders in Washtenaw County, which is home to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Sanders held a rally there on Sunday night that drew more than 10,000 people. Since his victory in the Nevada caucuses, where he fared especially well with younger Latinos, Sanders has not been able to expand the electorate with new voters enough to offset the surge in turnout among more traditional Democrats who harbor doubts about his electability.
To be sure, Sanders won 18- to 29-year-olds by 57 points. But they made up 16 percent of the electorate. Meanwhile, Biden won voters 65 and older by 51 points, according to the same exit polling, and they accounted for 20 percent of voters. He also won 45- to 64-year-olds, who accounted for 42 percent of voters, by 36 points. Older voters tend to view Sanders leerily, especially the democratic socialism he espouses and the political revolution he promises. It remains a problem for Sanders that he has not been able to make inroads with seniors, who most reliably turn out in primaries.”
Senate Majority Now In Play
BGov “Montana Gov. Steve Bullock‘s about-face Senate campaign announcement at the filing deadline Monday provides an 11th-hour boost to Democrats’ hopes of winning the majority. In Bullock, Democrats landed a far more potent opponent to Sen. Steve Daines (R) than the first-time statewide contenders already running, whose candidacies invited little confidence in the red state.
He’s the second former presidential contender to launch a bid for the Senate after consistently insisting he wouldn’t. But Bullock’s bid makes an even bigger splash than former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper because he moves a Republican-leaning state onto the competitive map.
Adding Montana to the mix of offensive opportunities widens Democrats’ path to netting at least three seats. It currently runs through Sens. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), along with second-tier options in Iowa and Georgia and a possible opening in Kansas. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) is the party’s own most vulnerable seat, but Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) also faces a challenge.
If Trump wins re-election, Democrats would need to net a fourth seat because the vice president’s party would break a 50-50 tie.
“Democrats will need to win the bulk of competitive races, but the seats are there,” said Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia.”
Daines will start out the race as the favorite, given President Donald Trump’s 20-point win there in 2016 and the fact that every state with a Senate race that year voted for the same party in both races. The decline in split-ticket voting will be a challenge for Bullock, who’s won three statewide campaigns in presidential years — twice for governor and once for attorney general — but never when seeking a federal office. Still, Bullock won’t have to look far for a recent example of Senate race success. Sen. Jon Tester (D) was re-elected to a third term in 2018 with 50% of the vote.”
In Pursuit Of The Truth
TODAY, MORE THAN EVER
From JOHN ROGERS, CEO, Capstone
“In today’s age of media mistrust, I believe the pursuit of truth is one of the most important quests of our time. It is our holy grail. Our pilgrimage.
Because democracy as we know it is in peril. Generally speaking, people don’t know what to believe anymore and they don’t trust the media, and when you don’t trust the media, it makes it all too easy to believe what works best for you. What’s convenient. What’s easy and fits nicely into your life.
There are some salient truths in this world regardless of what tribe we belong to, and democracy doesn’t work unless we have common language and common truth around those facts.” CLICK HERE TO READ BLOG POST