Mayday, Mayday … The Lost Summer Of 2020 … $3 Trillion And Counting … McConnell’s Public Health Gamble … 30 Million Jobs … Jared’s “Great Success Story” … The Pandemic Generation’s Future? … A Feel-Good Close To The Report … and other news of the week.
From my bunker,
Capstone National Partners
P.S. 180 Days Till Election Day (November 3, 2020)
NYT “As of today, more than a dozen states will have started to loosen restrictions that they imposed to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Public health experts worry that reopening too soon could lead to a spike in infections that wouldn’t be detected for weeks. Governors of coastal states including California and Florida have faced particular pressure as they try to balance health concerns with growing demands for beach access as the weather heats up.
AP … In the initial reopening phase, some of the recommendations in draft CDC guidance … Businesses should close break rooms. Schools should have students eat lunch in their classrooms instead of the cafeteria, schools should space desks six feet apart and nix any field trips and school assemblies. Churches should use a stationary collection box, and schedule extra services if necessary to make sure church pews aren’t packed. Restaurants should consider throwaway menus, single-service condiments, and disposable forks, knives, spoons, and dishes. They should install sneeze guards at cash registers and avoid buffets, salad bars and drink stations.”
Axios “Even as some states take steps to open up their economies, huge parts of our lives will stay shuttered well through August and possibly beyond. Summer rituals like trips to the pool and ballpark, BBQs and vacations may have a missing year.
Why it matters: That will have an enormous impact on families, education and businesses — not to mention our mental health, which needs a summer break more than ever.
- Education: What used to be a three-month summer learning loss could turn into five or six months.
- Businesses: Summer is a make-or-break period for many small businesses in tourist-reliant areas. Summer vacations are as vital to the hospitality industry as Black Friday is to retail.
- Families: The strain on families on all levels will have a cumulative effect. Summer months are often times to take a breather, slow down and get out of town. That won’t happen this year for most.
- Work routines: Virtual work fatigue is setting in. By September, our patience, routines and willpower will be frayed and weak.
What to watch: Summer also brings some level of complacency risk when it comes to coronavirus. If the virus has high seasonality, meaning it subsides with warmer weather, we may be lulled into a false sense of security. Public health officials fear that could set us up for a second wave to roar back come fall, possibly leading to the loss of yet another season — or two.
$3 Trillion … And Counting
BGov “[Congress] has passed four measures with almost $3 trillion in business loans, tax breaks, aid for individuals, and other funding to address the coronavirus pandemic, with talks underway for additional relief in the weeks ahead. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) are pushing for the next package to include more aid for state and local governments, payments for households, expanded unemployment benefits, and safety protections for essential workers, among other items.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said his “red line” will be liability protection for businesses, teeing up a clash with Democratic negotiators. McConnell also wants infrastructure to be addressed separately from pandemic legislation, and he opposes compensating states for revenue shortfalls unrelated to the virus.
PPP2 Rocky Rollout
WaPo “The hits keep coming for the Paycheck Protection Program. …The rollout of an extra $310 billion for forgivable loans was beset by technical glitches and a renewed bout of finger-pointing. Depending on whom you ask, the effort is either an imperfect but undeniable success in delivering rescue funds to 1.6 million businesses and counting – or a mismanaged disaster unto itself. This week’s headaches started as soon as the SBA reopened the online portal on Monday for banks to submit loan applications. The PPP faces more turbulence ahead.”
Announced: Covid Oversight Committee
Newsweek “The panel will weed out waste, fraud and abuse, and will protect against price gouging, profiteering and political favoritism. It will press to ensure that the federal response is based on the best possible science and guided by the nation’s best health experts.” -Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC), Democratic Whip; Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) Chair, Oversight Committee; Maxine Waters (D-CA) Chair, Financial Services Committee; Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) Chair, Small Business Committee; Jamie Raskin (D-MD.); Bill Foster (D-IL), Andy Kim (D-NJ). The Republicans have not yet been named.
McConnell’s Public Health Gamble
Politico “Coronavirus cases are still rising in the District of Columbia, where more than 200 people have died of the disease. The House decided it was too dangerous to return to the Capitol [next week]. But Mitch McConnell’s Senate is coming back anyway.
“The Senate majority leader is gambling that 100 senators can safely meet on the Senate floor and throughout the Capitol complex. Many of them will travel across the country for the Senate’s reopening, risking exposure on airplanes and in airports. And 49 senators are aged 65 or older and at greater risk of the deadly disease, according to the CDC. Plus, the senators’ return will bring back hundreds of staffers and Capitol employees.
Even the Senate Can’t Get Enough Tests
The Capitol’s attending physician told senior Republican staff yesterday that he doesn’t have the equipment for rapid or widespread testing for all 100 senators when they return to work Monday. He said that he didn’t have access to the 15-minute tests the White House has been using … or enough to test asymptomatic senators. And, results could take “between two and seven business days,” and senators will need to quarantine while they wait. Why it matters: Members of Congress skew older, and work in close quarters. Yet they can’t get tests. This is a microcosm of the national flaws in testing.
Republicans Relying On the Affordable Care Act
WaPo “For more than a decade, the Affordable Care Act has been the Republican Party’s nemesis. But the coronavirus pandemic’s fast-moving destruction has pushed Republicans to rely on President Barack Obama’s signature law to respond to the crisis, even taking action to strengthen it. The law, as written, requires Americans who have recently lost jobs and insurance coverage be permitted to enroll in its insurance marketplace, and they are doing so in swelling numbers.
Meanwhile, Republicans recently backed stimulus legislation that increased federal funding for a critical part of the ACA: Medicaid for lower-income people. And Trump administration regulators have used their authority to insist insurance plans pay for coronavirus tests as an “essential health benefit” under the ACA — a Republican target in the past.
The party’s rank and file — and many other Americans — have shifted to supporting the ACA and expanded government payments for health care. The pandemic is giving Republicans cover to follow changing public opinion.”
theSkimm “Wednesday the Commerce Dept said GDP dropped 4.8% in the first quarter of 2020 – the steepest drop since the Great Recession. Reminder: GDP is the total value of things made and services provided in a certain time frame. Think of it as a country’s economic report card. Until recently, the US was in its longest economic expansion ever recorded. YIKES … @byHeatherLong: “The worst is yet to come. Q2 2020 expect to be -35%.”
ONE MILLION+ INFECTED. NEARLY 65,000 DEAD. “Again, we’re on the other side of the medical aspect of this and I think that we’ve achieved all the different milestones that are needed. So, the government, federal government rose to the challenge and this is a great success story and I think that that’s really what needs to be told.” – Jared Kushner, son-in-law of and advisor to Donald Trump, on Fox and Friends 4.29.2020 (Politico)
Axios “When you’re ready to fly again, pack your patience with your face mask: Everything will take longer. Expect new procedures for everything from luggage check-in to security clearance and boarding. Masks and social distancing are only the beginning. In a new report, “The Rise of Sanitized Travel,” SimpliFlying (an airline marketing firm) anticipates (some are WILDLY speculative!):
- Online check-in: Passengers might need to upload a document to confirm the presence of COVID-19 antibodies before they fly.
- Airport curbside: Passengers could be required to arrive at least four hours ahead of their flight and pass through a “disinfection tunnel” or thermal scanner.
- Check-in and bag drop: Agents would be behind plexiglass shields, and bags would be disinfected and then “sanitagged.”
- The pre-flight safety video might include sanitation procedures. In-flight magazines will be removed, seatback pockets emptied, and passengers will likely use their own devices to watch videos. An in-flight janitor might keep lavatories and other high-touch areas disinfected after passenger use.”
Politico Magazine “CNN’s Jake Tapper was brutally direct in his question to Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, who recently lifted his state’s stay-at-home order, in favor of a gradual reopening of business. Are you worried, Tapper asked, that a premature move could “cost your constituents their lives?” Polis was blandly indirect in his answer. While he might wish to have “next week’s information and next month’s information available to me today,” the Democratic governor said, “that’s not the world we live in.” During a pandemic that likely will continue for months, he’s looking for a path forward in “an ongoing sustainable way,” one that takes into account citizens’ interests “psychologically, economically, and from a health perspective.”
The murkiness of Polis’ reply requires translation. To my ear, he was saying something like this: Yes, some people are going to die of Covid-19 who wouldn’t if I keep a full lockdown in place. I hope not too many or too fast. But keeping the risk of death as low as possible imposes other costs that are too high, and my job is to balance competing goals.
… The real question is less philosophical (Are you willing to “cost your constituents their lives”?) than practical (What is your tolerance for some uncertain number of additional deaths against some certain benefits of resuming regular life?).
… Although Polis is lifting legal prohibitions earlier than many health experts recommend, he still backs extensive social distancing, is urging people who can still work at home to do so, and pledged he would reevaluate the state’s policy regularly in the face of new evidence in coming months.
Is he acting too soon? Maybe. … But whether too soon or just right, Polis is navigating a zone of uncertainty and competing goals that is precisely the one 49 other governors are navigating, too, not to mention every worker heading back to the job sooner or later.
“We have to make the best informed decisions,” Polis said, “based on data and science with the information we have.” CLICK HERE TO READ ARTICLE.
New Hope: Remdesivir
AP “U.S. regulators on Friday allowed emergency use of an experimental drug that appears to help some coronavirus patients recover faster. It is the first drug shown to help fight COVID-19, which has killed more than 230,000 people worldwide. The Food and Drug Administration acted after preliminary results from a government-sponsored study showed that Gilead Sciences’s remdesivir shortened the time to recovery by 31%, or about four days on average, for hospitalized COVID-19 patients.”
Axios “States are facing their biggest fiscal crisis since the Great Depression, with revenues plunging as obligations soar. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested that state bankruptcy filings should be considered as an alternative to further federal bailouts.
Reality check: States cannot currently file for bankruptcy, unlike cities and towns.
- Bankruptcy wouldn’t even help states get through this crisis.
- Bankruptcy is about an inability to repay debts. The states’ current predicament is centered on an inability to fund their essential services.
Between the lines: Many Republican lawmakers tend to like the idea of state bankruptcy because it’s the only way to forcibly renegotiate contracts and pension agreements with public-sector unions.
Pandemic Generation’s Future?
Axios “The coronavirus pandemic is already changing American life in ways that will far outlast the pandemic itself, for better and worse.
Health Care System will have to adapt:
- Insurers and the federal government have stepped in to cover coronavirus-related medical bills, but a slow economic recovery will leave millions of people uninsured while their financial situation remains precarious.
- Medicaid will cover many of them, but that will strain state budgets at a time when they are most precarious.
- If we do things right, we’ll start building up bigger, better stockpiles of the things we need in a pandemic, including masks and other protective gear for hospital workers.
Economy will take a long time to recover:
- Many companies, large and small, simply will not survive.
- History shows that when employees are laid off in large numbers, they come back in stages, rather than all at once. That will be doubly true for this recession.
- Customers will be slow to return, which will mean companies will be slow to bring back workers.
- Tax revenues have cratered, and they will come back slowly and unevenly.
- Some local governments will furlough or lay off their workers and cut public services including police or K-12 education. They may need to raise taxes.
Politics will have a new center of gravity:
- The coronavirus has killed more Americans than the Vietnam War. It will likely eliminate more jobs than the Great Recession. Washington has shoveled trillions of dollars out the door in record time, with little oversight. We haven’t even scratched the surface of the political fallout: This is the kind of all-encompassing crisis that can not only affect an election or two, but alter the focus of politics for a generation.
- Voting by mail will be the next big voting-rights battleground.
Information ecosystem is convulsing:
- Local news, already hanging by a thread, has been devastated. Tens of thousands of journalism jobs have been lost just in the past month.
- The virus has weakened the growth of partisan publishers. They’ll probably rebound, but for now, it’s pushed people toward higher-quality news — habits they make take with them after the pandemic.
Trump’s Virus Slump
Axios “President Trump’s handling of the virus crisis has produced a political emergency for the White House, with a raft of signs suddenly pointing to possible big trouble when he faces re-election six months from now.
- His favorability rating, mostly stable throughout his presidency, has ticked down in Gallup to 43%, from 49% on March 22.
- A furious Trump blew up at his campaign team last week and snapped at campaign manager Brad Parscale, saying at one point, “I am not f—ing losing to Joe Biden,” AP reported.
The backdrop was a series of swing-state polls showing real trouble for Trump, and a string of polls showing older voters — a bedrock group for the president — drifting to Biden.
- Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), a Trump loyalist who’s up for re-election, said during an off-the-record conference call this week, according to CNN: “The state of Georgia is in play” — a jarring read on a traditionally red state where Trump beat Hillary Clinton by five points.
- Trump led in Florida polls in March but is now modestly behind Biden, per the Tampa Times.
AND — The Cook Political Report has moved Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) reelection race from solid Republican to likely Republican. All this comes amid yet more West Wing turnover, with aides divided about how to respond. And the Trump playbook — punch back, blame someone else — has been off-key in this moment.”
Politico “… litigating a decades-old allegation … Biden’s answer about whether he assaulted Tara Reade in 1995 or 1996 — delivered this morning on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe:” “No. It is not true. I’m saying unequivocally it never, never happened and it didn’t. It never happened.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended Joe Biden on Thursday against allegations of assault, saying she’s “satisfied” with how he has responded to the controversy and that she believes his denial. Marianne Baker, Biden’s executive assistant from 1982–2000: “In all my years working for Senator Biden, I never once witnessed, or heard of, or received, any reports of inappropriate conduct. … I have absolutely no knowledge or memory of Ms. Reade’s accounting of events, which would have left a searing impression on me as a woman professional, and as a manager.”
AND .. The NYT interviewed Reade, lawyers she spoke to, nearly two dozen people who worked with Biden in the early 90s, and seven women who made inappropriate touching allegations against Biden. None corroborated the details of Reade’s allegation.”
Five-Thirty-Five “The Biden campaign sent out talking points this week for surrogates who will need to address the Reade question. “Here’s the bottom line: Vice President Joe Biden has spent over 40 years in public life: 36 years in the Senate; 7 Senate campaigns, 2 previous presidential runs, two vice presidential campaigns, and 8 years in the White House. There has never been a complaint, allegation, hint or rumor of any impropriety or inappropriate conduct like this regarding him – ever.”
Axios “New polling by one of President Trump’s campaign pollsters shows an openness to vote-by-mail efforts that Trump has criticized. Why it matters: The polling comes as coronavirus-related election reform efforts have become a political lightning rod, with the president dismissing mail-in voting as “corrupt” and “RIPE for FRAUD.”
Broadway legend lends his voice to chorus of New Yorkers applauding health care workers fighting coronavirus.
A feel good close to the Report.