We are into August with just three months to go until the election. Everyone is joining Jared Kushner in celebrating the end of the coronavirus problem in July. We were all “rocking and rolling” that the pandemic has passed.
Okay, so Jared’s plan did not work out. Neither did his mid-East peace plan and various other assignments handed to him. But we should not pick on poor Jared. He is running his father-in-law’s re-election campaign and everything is going wonderfully – for Joe Biden.
The incompetence of the Trump administration is now on full display at the most inconvenient of times. COVID-19 is surging in hot spots where residents thought they were immune to the virus – those red states where you can party all you want and masks are for sissies. Unfortunately PPE supplies and testing equipment are again in short supply. Test results are slow. The numbers of infections, hospitalizations and deaths are still soaring. But Trumpkins still see the virus as simply a bad flu, even with hundred fifty five thousand deaths and counting.
The economy just saw its worst quarter in history. New unemployment insurance claims have exceeded 1,000,000 per week for the past 19 weeks. Thirty million Americans are out of work but there are less than six million jobs available. Businesses are closing (and in some cases re-closing) in record numbers, many permanently.
The United States Census Bureau in mid-July took a survey of the nation’s financial health. Here is some of what they found:
[T]he Household Pulse Survey estimates that during the COVID-19 pandemic:
• 50.1% of American adults live in households which have experienced a loss in employment income
• 35.1% of American adults expect to experience a loss in employment income
• 10.8% of Americans lived in households where there was either sometimes or often not enough to eat in the previous 7 days
• 40.6% of adults had delayed getting medical care in the previous 4 weeks
• 26.4% of adults either missed last month’s rent or mortgage payment, or had slight or no confidence that their household could make the next payment on time
Donald Trump’s response to all this is his continued promotion of hydroxychloroquine. He re-tweets the rants of a strange Houston pediatrician who promotes theories about alien invasions and demon sperm. He suggests that the election should be delayed. “Look, over here, another shiny object to distract you!” Pay no attention to the people out of work, losing their homes, getting sick, dying.
Congressional Republicans know the House of Representatives will be lost again, likely by a bigger margin. The Senate is now firmly in play, with more seats added to the competitive mix nearly every week. Potential 2024 Republican presidential candidates are already posturing to become the next Trump. Ah, ambition.
The issue at hand in Washington at the moment is how to construct the next COVID-19 relief bill. Trump has checked out, leaving things to Mark Meadows and Steven Mnuchin. Trump’s main priority is nearly two billion dollars for a new FBI headquarters across the street from his DC hotel.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy plays no role in developing the new legislation and instead spends his time begging Trump for money for House races. Mitch McConnell can’t seem to figure out how to salvage his Senate majority; kiss Trump’s ass; and come up with a bailout package that his caucus can support all at the same time.
The issues at hand are literally life and death for millions of Americans. All of them need immediate attention, and it’s going to cost lots of money.
First and foremost, what is going to be done to get money into the hands of people who can’t pay their mortgages or rent? Republicans have reverted to their old saw that unemployment insurance is for lazy people. Why worry about those 30 million who are out of work? Evictions and foreclosures may begin to soar – too bad.
The famous PPP has helped some businesses in the short term, but it has also squandered billions to very rich companies while the Trump administration has worked to hide information about where the money is going.
Elementary and high schools and colleges are in desperate need of funds to provide a safe learning environment. Everyone wants schools reopened, but it is the parents of school age children who are the real deciders in these matters. It is an awful predicament for them, worried about their jobs and income and their children’s health and wellbeing. Politicians should make sure parents have all the available facts and options in their hands and schools have the financial resources needed to get through this extraordinary situation – then get out of the way.
State and local government revenues have been clobbered by shrinking revenues and growing pandemic-related expenses. Over the next five months crisis after crisis in states, counties, and local governments will unfold as next year’s budgets are presented and voted on.
Please, my Republican friends, don’t moan and groan about not wanting to spend more money. When Trump came in office the national debt was $19.9 trillion. It was $23.7 trillion in March of this year, before the pandemic and relief spending came into play. The 2017 tax cut has and will continue to add trillions to the debt. Trump promised during the campaign to eliminate the debt in eight years. Promises made …
Republicans officeholders and candidates almost universally support Trump. They don’t dare to challenge him on any of his disastrous stands on the issues on the day. The party and its candidates up and down the ballot are with him on everything. So all Republicans candidates need to answer for the mess Trump has created.
In 1930 Herbert Hoover’s failure to act responsibly nearly destroyed this country. In 2008 the Bush administration through its financial deregulation and massive tax cuts nearly ran the country off the cliff. Barack Obama brought us back. This year another Republican administration and their allies in Congress are leading us off the cliff again. That, in a nut shell, is what the 2020 election is all about.