What Now?! – March 14, 2020

Washington Post: “The White House and House Democrats reached agreement Friday on a coronavirus relief package to spend tens of billions of dollars on sick leave, unemployment insurance, food stamps and other measures to address the unfolding crisis.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the agreement in a letter to fellow House Democrats. “We are proud to have reached an agreement with the Administration to resolve outstanding challenges, and now will soon pass the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.”

A vote to pass the legislation was expected later Friday in the House, and in the Senate next week.”

JPMorgan expects the coronavirus pandemic to sink the U.S. economy into a deep recession as soon as this summer, Business Insider reports.

JPMorgan’s views of the virus “have evolved dramatically in recent weeks” as the outbreak spreads further around the world and fuels the worst stock market sell-offs in decades. The US economy will shrink by 2% in the first quarter and 3% in the second.

“President Trump declared a national emergency over the coronavirus pandemic Friday as public life in America continued to grind to a halt. Trump’s announcement sent the Dow soaring nearly 2,000 points,” the Washington Post reports.

New York Times: “He also gave broad new authority to the health secretary, Alex Azar, who he said would now be able to waive provisions to give doctors and hospitals more flexibility to respond to the virus, including making it easier to treat people remotely.”

But when asked if he took responsibility for the U.S. lag in testing, Trump said: “I don’t take responsibility at all.”

President Trump said at a Friday press conference that he’d “most likely” get tested for coronavirus, Axios reports.

New York Times: “Between 160 million and 214 million people in the U.S. could be infected over the course of the epidemic, according to one projection. That could last months or even over a year, with infections concentrated in shorter periods, staggered across time in different communities, experts said. As many as 200,000 to 1.7 million people could die.”

“And, the calculations based on the C.D.C.’s scenarios suggested, 2.4 million to 21 million people in the U.S. could require hospitalization, potentially crushing the nation’s medical system, which has only about 925,000 staffed hospital beds. Fewer than a tenth of those are for people who are critically ill.”

“The coronavirus outbreak in Italy has gotten so bad so quickly that some doctors are now forced to practice “catastrophe medicine” — determining which severely ill patients should, and should not, get care based on the resources available,” Axios reports.

“The U.S. is not at that point — but a week ago, neither was Italy. The rapid deterioration there underlines the importance of taking preventive measures seriously, and the need for political and health leaders to start thinking about hard ethical questions.”

Bloomberg: Italy’s nightmare offers chilling preview.

Ben Rhodes: “By constantly trying to get himself through the news cycle, Trump has done irreparable damage to the long-term objective of ensuring that he’s a credible voice on the COVID-19 crisis. Time and again, he’s minimized the danger while talking up his own response, perhaps most notably when he said—speaking about cases within the United States two weeks ago—’You have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.’ Statements like this no doubt end up creating hours of more work for his staff to explain or justify what is plainly false. More insidiously, this sort of talk could have contributed to the slowness to test and discover new cases which would plainly contradict the president’s own predictions.”

“Even the president’s signature announcement—a travel ban on Europe (which later turned out to be a travel ban on non-Americans who had recently been in the European Union’s Schengen Area) had the feel of something designed for short-term news value rather than long-term planning. In addition to causing confusion and exacerbating market disruptions, it was a step taken too late to contain a virus that is already very much here. The travel ban was also far less relevant than other steps that could have been announced, like surging resources for testing and other badly needed health infrastructure and supplies. Finally, it was clearly made without consultation with European leaders, who—in a normal presidency—would be in near-daily contact with a U.S. president to manage a challenge that recognizes no borders.”

“In this way, President Trump’s address to the nation was doomed to fail. It was delivered by a president who ignores inconvenient truths, disdains expertise, views events solely through the lens of his political interests, and fails to look beyond the news cycle. This dynamic has been exacerbated by an information flow into and out of the White House that reflects Trump’s worst instincts—his desire to be flattered and his deafness to any form of criticism.”

New York Times: “After feeling besieged by enemies for three years, Mr. Trump and some of his advisers view so many issues through the lens of political warfare — assuming that criticism is all about point scoring — that it has become hard to see what is real and what is not, according to people around the president. Even when others with Mr. Trump’s best interests at heart disagree, they find it hard to penetrate what they see as the bubble around him.”

“Among the advisers who share the president’s more jaundiced view is his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who considers the problem more about public psychology than a health reality, according to people who have spoken with him. Mr. Kushner has gotten more involved in the response in recent days, according to three White House advisers. A person close to Mr. Kushner said his views were being misinterpreted, and that he was focused on trying to find answers to the most immediate measures to mitigate the virus’s spread.”

David Corn: “Donald Trump’s utterly incompetent response to the coronavirus has become readily apparent in recent days. But this disaster is not a solo enterprise. His catastrophic performance as president during the early stages of the crisis is the culmination of decades of right-wing action aimed at subverting the one entity that can protect Americans from the deadly threat at hand: government.”

Wall Street Journal: “[Trump’s Oval Office speech] was written largely by Stephen Miller, the president’s senior policy adviser, and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and overseen by staff secretary Derek Lyons. The three men, all White House staffers since Mr. Trump took office, haven’t been deeply involved in the coronavirus response.”

“Mr. Kushner hasn’t attended a single task force meeting, according to one official who has attended each meeting. Many of the officials who have been working on the issue for weeks said they were cut out or ignored during the speech writing.”

“The result was a speech that White House officials said hit the correct themes, but was riddled with errors.”

Peter Wehner: “The coronavirus is quite likely to be the Trump presidency’s inflection point, when everything changed, when the bluster and ignorance and shallowness of America’s 45th president became undeniable, an empirical reality, as indisputable as the laws of science or a mathematical equation.”

“It has taken a good deal longer than it should have, but Americans have now seen the con man behind the curtain. The president, enraged for having been unmasked, will become more desperate, more embittered, more unhinged. He knows nothing will be the same. His administration may stagger on, but it will be only a hollow shell. The Trump presidency is over.”

“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau has tested positive for the coronavirus, the Prime Minister’s Office said late Thursday, saying she will remain in isolation,” the CBC reports.

“Trudeau will also stay in isolation for 14 days, but on the advice of his doctors, will not be tested because he has no symptoms. He plans to address Canadians on Friday.”

“Canada’s federal political parties have reached a deal to suspend Parliament until at least April 20 in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic,” Politico reports.

“Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, four days after the mayor attended a Miami event with a Brazilian government official who later tested positive for the virus,” the Miami Herald reports.

Julia Ioffe: “Some 63 million Americans voted for a man who wanted to smash the system to smithereens, either because they felt it wasn’t doing enough for them or because breaking glass just feels so primitively satisfying. Or maybe it’s because the Republican Party has been peddling a dystopian anarchistic anti-government pipe dream to them for the last four decades. Now, it turns out, a functioning government is a good thing to have when a global pandemic arrives on your shores. It turns out that maybe reforming an imperfect system is wiser than just taking a sledgehammer to it, better to trust people who have dedicated their lives to being public servants than trashing them in favor of a one-man, megalomaniacal savior, better to have a functioning system than dancing on its rubble while crowing about the death of the ‘deep state’—or ‘the political establishment.’”

“To those 63 million Americans, I say this: you wanted to smash the system and you got what you wanted—in spades. Now we will all have to pay the price.”

Amy Walter: “The one constant in these last three and a half years has been chaos. Almost every week, there is an event, issue or moment that looks as if it may upend our current political stasis or rattle the economy. But so far, nothing, not a government shutdown, nor impeachment, nor a tempestuous tweet, has been enough to spook the markets or alter opinions of this president. Meanwhile, our media cycle and attention spans have gotten shorter and shorter, which only serves to lessen their long-term repercussions.”

“Coronavirus, however, may be our first truly disruptive event in this so-called disruptive era.”

Wall Street Journal: “Coronavirus has challenged Mr. Trump’s unusual leadership style—blunt, improvisational and shoot-from-the-hip—like no other issue to confront his administration.”

“As a viral pandemic has spread across continents with a severity and deadliness that world leaders say demands a global response, President Trump has increasingly turned inward,” the Washington Post reports.

“He has imposed travel restrictions on one-fourth of the world’s population while criticizing other nation’s response efforts, refused to meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, attacked his handpicked Fed chairman and defied the warnings of his own public health experts.”

“His handling of the crisis, including a surprise decision to restrict travel from Europe, is drawing criticism both at home and abroad as leaders warn that Trump’s go-it-alone approach is doing harm to an already fraught situation.”

Mar-a-Lago, President Trump’s private club, is not expected to cancel a 700-person fundraiser in response to the coronavirus pandemic but guests will be encouraged to “refrain from shaking hands, hugging or kissing,” the Palm Beach Post reports.

“Despite mounting pleas from California and other states, the Trump administration isn’t allowing states to use Medicaid more freely to respond to the coronavirus crisis by expanding medical services,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“In previous emergencies, including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina and the H1N1 flu outbreak, both Republican and Democratic administrations loosened Medicaid rules to empower states to meet surging needs.”

“But months into the current global disease outbreak, the White House and senior federal health officials haven’t taken the necessary steps to give states simple pathways to fully leverage the mammoth safety net program to prevent a wider epidemic.”

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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