March 23, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 8:46 PM


Posted by orrinj at 8:43 PM


Why Nancy Pelosi proposed her own $2.5 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill (Ella Nilsen, Mar 23, 2020, Vox)

The bigger picture here is Pelosi signaling to Republicans that if they don't like what Schumer is proposing, they will still have to deal with her down the line when the House takes up the Senate bill. Pelosi's bill reads like a mission statement for how Democrats might govern in this crisis if they weren't constrained by a Republican Senate and president. It calls for coronavirus treatment to be free for patients, further bolstering unemployment insurance, directing $40 billion to states to help stabilize schools and universities, student loan forgiveness, funding for the homeless, and helping boost states' vote-by-mail capacity.

"Because of the Senate Democrats, progress has been made. We urge the Senate to move closer to the values in the Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act," Pelosi said in a statement ahead of her press conference.

Thye Trumpbots can be forgiven for having no idea how deal-making works.

Posted by orrinj at 5:56 PM


Poll: Americans want corporations to promise no layoffs in exchange for bailouts (Emily Stewart, Mar 23, 2020, Vox)

Nearly three-quarters of voters say companies receiving bailout money should commit to no layoffs, while just 11 percent oppose that requirement, according to the Data for Progress polling. And it's an area where, at least among voters, there is agreement across the political spectrum: 82 percent of Democrats, 61 percent of independents, and 70 percent of Republicans agree on no layoffs.

Posted by orrinj at 5:49 PM


Exclusive: U.S. axed CDC expert job in China months before virus outbreak (Marisa Taylor, 3/23/20, Reuters) 

Several months before the coronavirus pandemic began, the Trump administration eliminated a key American public health position in Beijing intended to help detect disease outbreaks in China, Reuters has learned.

Posted by orrinj at 5:45 PM


Gas prices could soon drop to 99 cents a gallon in parts of the Midwest (Silvia Ascarelli, 3/23/20, MarketWatch)

Even as many Americans are increasingly seeing gas prices at the pump under $2 a gallon, the drop could soon steepen. That's particularly true in the Great Lakes region, where prices could soon be 99 cents a gallon at hundreds of gas stations.

Here's how Patrick De Haan, the head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, figures that: The Chicago spot price, the reference point for prices in surrounding states, has plummeted to 34 cents a gallon. It's a nickel to a dime higher in other regions and 52 cents on the West Coast. Add on gas taxes, he says, and you're getting close to where retail prices could soon be.

Besides all the usual good reasons to punish gas consumption, we have the added one of discouraging mobility in a pandemic.

Posted by orrinj at 5:34 PM


As coronavirus forces millions to work remotely, the US economy may have reached a 'tipping point' in favor of working from home (Lindsey Jacobson, 3/23/20, CNBC)

With the U.S. government declaring a state of emergency due to the coronavirus, companies are enabling work-from-home structures to keep business running and help employees follow social distancing guidelines. However, working remotely has been on the rise for a while.

"The coronavirus is going to be a tipping point. We plodded along at about 10% growth a year for the last 10 years, but I foresee that this is going to really accelerate the trend," Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics, told CNBC.

Gallup's State of the American Workplace 2017 study found that 43% of employees work remotely with some frequency. Research indicates that in a five-day workweek, working remotely for two to three days is the most productive. That gives the employee two to three days of meetings, collaboration and interaction, with the opportunity to just focus on the work for the other half of the week.

Gotta preserve those unproductive non-working days...

Posted by orrinj at 5:13 PM


Trump Won't Order Vital Coronavirus Supplies Because Corporate CEOs Asked Him Not To (BESS LEVIN, MARCH 23, 2020, Vanity Fair)

One of the most mind-boggling aspects of the coronavirus crisis in America is the fact that one of the wealthiest countries in the world doesn't have the basic medical supplies necessary to deal with the situation. In addition to a lack of beds, hospitals across the nation have nowhere near the number of ventilators and masks doctors require to both do their jobs and protect themselves. While governors have pleaded with Donald Trump to help them obtain such equipment, he's literally told them they're on their own, seemingly forgetting the fact that he's the one with the power here. For instance, Andrew Cuomo can't invoke the Defense Production Act, which allows the federal government to take some control of the private sector to ensure production of materials relevant to national defense, but Trump can. And yet he's chosen not to. Why? Because corporate CEOs don't like the idea, and the president is more concerned with keeping big business happy than keeping Americans alive.

And they wonder that Democrats won't trust him with $500 billion for personal use?

Posted by orrinj at 2:23 PM


House Democrats to introduce a coronavirus stimulus plan Monday as Senate bill stalls (Jacob Pramuk, 3/23/20, CNBC)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said her caucus would unveil legislation Monday "that takes responsibility for the health, wages and well-being of America's workers." It would include, according to a statement from the California Democrat: 

Requirements that corporations getting bailout money shield workers' wages and benefits, and limits on CEO compensation, stock buybacks and layoffs. 

Direct payments to Americans, along with expanded paid family and medical leave.

Grants and loans to small businesses. 

Strengthened unemployment insurance. 

Increased funding for hospitals and tougher safety standards for health-care workers. 

Language urging President Donald Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act to manufacture more health-care supplies. 

$40 billion in funding for schools and universities along with student debt relief. 

More funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and other food assistance programs. 

State election grants and a national requirement for 15 days of early voting and no-excuse absentee voting as fears grow about coronavirus spreading at crowded polling sites.

Posted by orrinj at 2:19 PM


Here's why Senate Democrats want to give Social Security beneficiaries an extra $200 per month amid coronavirus scare (Lorie Konish, 3/23/20, CNBC)

Several Democratic senators have teamed up to propose giving Social Security beneficiaries an extra $200 per month in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and the economic devastation it is causing.

The plan was put forward last week by Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; and Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

The extra income would apply to all Social Security, Veterans and Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, beneficiaries.

The bonus money would continue through the end of 2021, adding up to an extra $4,000 over the next two years.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Pelosi says House will draft its own coronavirus funding bill (MIKE LILLIS, 03/22/20, The Hill)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on Sunday that House Democrats would draft their own coronavirus stimulus bill after all sides failed to reach a deal on a massive proposal being negotiated in the Senate. [...]

Her comments came just after Pelosi left a meeting with the lead negotiators scrambling to piece together Congress's third relief package in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has tanked markets, led to mass layoffs and encroached on virtually every facet of American life.

The meeting in McConnell's office also featured Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and White House Legislative Affairs Director Eric Ueland. It marked the first time that Pelosi had met face-to-face with McConnell and the other Republicans, who negotiated with Schumer and Senate Democrats while the House was in recess last week.

Pelosi and Schumer, however, have been working hand in glove throughout the process. And Pelosi has vowed all along that House Democrats would craft their own alternative to the Republicans' initial $1 trillion proposal, if only to promote their own stimulus vision as the talks evolved.

Because someone has to lead the countty.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


...the beauty of the Anglosphere's resolution of the problem is that republican liberty optimally balances the two.
Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Coronavirus Rescue Bill Fails Its First Vote (Kevin Drum, 3/23/20, MoJo)

Republicans mostly caved in on the Democratic demands, but their price was an increase from $200 billion to $500 billion in the loans for big corporations. You might wonder why there was a price for this stuff. Why did Republicans have to be talked into it in the first place? There was some muttering about not trusting the states to disburse the unemployment insurance money, but in the end it was just because they're Republicans. Putting corporations first is in their DNA or something.

Oh, and the $500 billion loan pool would be under the control of the Secretary of the Treasury and would have virtually no strings attached. It's just a giant slush fund that the Trump administration can do anything with. Does anyone think for a second that Trump wouldn't use this as leverage to help his friends and punish his enemies? Of course he would.

This was the straw that broke the camel's back. Democrats were willing to vote for the loan pool, but they weren't willing to make it a Trump slush fund. Even West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who's conservative enough that he could pass for a Republican most of the time, was apoplectic: "They're throwing caution to the wind for average workers and people on Main Street and going balls to the wall for people on Wall Street," he said.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Essential Science: Coronavirus was not genetically engineered (TIM SANDLE, 3/23/20, Digital Journal)

A study conducted by the Scripps Research Institute conclusively demonstrates that the virus causing the global pandemic: SARS-CoV-2 and the disease called COVID-19 is of natural origin. [...]

Unfortunately, senior figures based in both China and the U.S. have been posting 'fake news' about either the origins of the coronavirus or inferring that the virus is some kind of biological warfare weapon.

Take, for example, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian has repeatedly claimed that the U.S. military brought coronavirus to Wuhan, albeit without providing any evidence (as ABC News has reported). In addition to this, China's ambassador to South Africa has tweeted that the virus was not necessarily "made in China". Again, no scientific evidence has been provided to support this assertion.

In the U.S., many far-right political movements have attempted to use the coronavirus pandemic as a means to propagate various theories relating to societal collapse, biblical rapture, or even the beginning of a race war (The Guardian presents a round-up of these movements and the ideas they are professing).