Three point three million lucky new duckies!
The Senate last night passed that $2.2 trillion stimulus package, but not before some DRAMA from the expected bunch of rightwing numpties. Republican Senators Lindsey Graham (South Carolina), Ben Sasse (Nebraska), Rick Scott (Florida), and Tim Scott (South Carolina) held a press conference to protest that the bill's temporary unemployment benefits were far too generous, because the extra $600 a week (for no more than four months) would amount to more than some low-wage workers even get in their regular pay, and wouldn't that be terrible during a massive economic crisis? Calling the unemployment provision a "drafting error," which it damn well was not, the four offered an amendment that would limit emergency unemployment benefits to no more than 100 percent of recipients' wages. Fortunately, the amendment failed, and the bill went forward, but at least now conservatives can tut-tut about all the lucky duckies who'll be whooping it up and maybe not becoming homeless as the unemployment rate explodes due to the coronavirus pandemic and the world's economy peeks out from a scenic overlook at a new great depression.
The problem, the Great Minds declared, was that at a time when the pandemic can only be fought by keeping people home from work, some people might actually get paid to stay home from work, and they'd become so lazy after getting four months of higher pay that they'd never return to work once the crisis is over. Especially if the crisis is over before those four months are up! (Which isn't a likely scenario, but what if it happened?) The idea that unemployment benefits cause people to avoid work is kinda bullshit in normal times, but in an economic crash like we're trying to avoid, it makes even less sense than ever.
Here's the video if you're a masochist:
Sen. Graham addresses problems in coronavirus relief bill youtu.be
Mnuchin Calls 3.3 MILLION Newly Unemployed Americans 'Irrelevant.' He Probably Could Have Put That Better If He Wasn't Literal Marie Antoinette
Don't eat the rich, they are so bitter and tasteless.
It's really, really bad.
The new unemployment numbers are out, and they'll knock the wind right out of you. THREE POINT THREE MILLION. That's the number of Americans who applied for unemployment last week. Here, have a graphic from CNN.
That red line isn't the border, just to make this image look prettier; it's the number the Department of Labor released this morning. And it doesn't include gig workers, people who are self-employed, and students. No Uber drivers, no hairdressers, no personal trainers, no house cleaners, no dog walkers, and no off-the-books childcare. So even though this number quadruples the old record sent in 1982, it is probably a massive undercount because of who it leaves out.
The official unemployment rate was 3.5 percent last month. Now it's probably 5.5 percent. And as ugly as that is, it's likely to get worse as employees drain their accrued sick and vacation time on the way to the unemployment office. There are thousands of companies out there grappling with the lost business and trying to work out who they'll have to cut to stay afloat.
He’s a goddamn monster.
Donald Trump — out of the goodness of his own shriveled heart — recently declared California, New York, and Washington state coronavirus disaster areas. But the president has been a little tardy on releasing disaster unemployment assistance, which is a pressing need for the gig economy workers who are otherwise ineligible for traditional unemployment benefits. The only aid the Trump administration has offered so far is “crisis counseling." That's probably useful for everyone who needs counseling because the president won't fund their unemployment.
A senior White House official claims that Trump is holding off because the coronavirus stimulus package will provide similar protections, and Trump hates double dipping. That's certainly an explanation. Another, perhaps more likely, explanation is that Trump is a petty POS. He hates the Democratic governors of California, New York, and Washington state. He's feuded with California Gov. Gavin Newsom and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He's called Washington Gov. Jay Inslee “a snake" like he was a rival rapper not a political leader dealing with a national emergency.
It includes some oversight for the slush fund, so that's something.
After a couple extra days of negotiations, Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have agreed on a $2 trillion stimulus bill aimed at offsetting some of the worst economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the deal in the wee hours this morning, around 1:30 a.m., and the Senate is expected to pass the bill later today after McConnell has had a nap and a nice lunch of iceberg lettuce sprinkled with human misery.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was included in the negotiations and said the bill had the approval of Donald Trump, almost as if Trump had been briefed on and/or understood the details. Mnuchin said he had "spoken to the president many times today; he's very pleased with this legislation and the impact that this is going to have."
Trump, for his part, spent the morning grudge-tweeting, with tweets attacking Joe Biden and sarcastically expressing happiness that Mitt Romney did not test positive for the virus, while saying Romney was "a terrible presidential candidate and an even worse U.S. Senator, but he is a RINO, and I like him a lot!" Trump also retweeted the usual bunch of rightwing idiots who praised him or mocked his enemies, so he's probably finished thinking about this dumb pandemic. Trump didn't tweet his own statement on the deal, but did retweet this fascinating gif depicting McConnell as some sort of wizard or superhero with electric eyes.
He is a very serious president, our Dear Leader.
Oh we are droll!
Habeas corpus allows people who have been detained to appear before a judge and request release. Due process requires the government to respect all manner of legal rights that are owed to a person. And Bill Barr wants to get rid of them.
In a move that surprised absolutely no one, Reichsminister Barr has decided to use the deadly COVID-19 pandemic to try to suspend the Constitution and give himself extrajudicial powers.
As reported by Politico, last week the Department of Justice quietly asked Congress to declare that the Constitution doesn't really exist during the coronavirus pandemic. Because why not detain people indefinitely, deny trials, and suspend due process and habeas corpus?! We don't need no stinking Constitution!
'Every man for himself' isn't seeming like the best philosophy.
Following the announcement Sunday that Sen. Rand Paul had tested positive for COVID-19, the Senate is still continuing with business as mostly usual, minus a few Republicans who are self-quarantining. The New York Times brings us an update illustrating the sense of vague dread hanging over the Senate since other senators and staff found out Rand Paul's decision to keep to his usual routine in the Capitol had enlisted them into this freaky "Masque of the Red Death" cosplay.
Our advice to Rand Paul: Don't accept any invitations to taste an excellent wine in any other senator's private cellar.
A quick comparison of the House and Senate plans, because we love you.
While the Senate's economic stimulus bill was bogged down yesterday over Republicans' insistence on big corporate bailouts with little oversight, Nancy Pelosi unveiled a House plan yesterday to provide economic relief to workers and businesses at risk from the effects of dealing with the coronavirus outbreak. The House bill would spend $2.5 trillion, compared to roughly $1.8 trillion in the Senate version, and appears to be largely aimed at influencing the final shape of the stimulus package to make sure Democratic priorities are included. Like, for instance, not just throwing money at giant corporations and hoping for the best. Let's take a quick look at what's in the House bill here, beyond the free solar-powered abortions for lesbian environmentalists that Fox News is already complaining about. We're drawing from summaries at Politico, Fortune, and CNBC.
First we're gonna show you what Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said, and then we're gonna tell you what happened before that:
That is just the beginning of AOC's thread, but she could have dropped the mic after she talked about Collins's "I'm a Moderate Lady" dance. AOC just told Collins to sit her ass down and shelter the fuck in place.
That is a disease metaphor about a hidden provision to defund Planned Parenthood, maybe Medicaid.
Now that Mitch McConnell has had a good cry about how mean Democrats are being all partisan by not accepting a $425 billion no-strings giveaway to corporations in the Senate's economic stimulus bill, we learn that — surprise, surprise! — the nearly $2 trillion bill also has an evil little provision written into another part of the bill that appears to be aimed at defunding Planned Parenthood, but is so broadly written that it could endanger funding for any small nonprofit that receives funding through Medicaid.
The Washington Post explains what the Republicans who wrote the bill snuck into the portion that provides $350 billion to keep small business open if they don't lay off workers:
According to language in the bill forwarded to me by a senior Senate Democratic aide, this provision excludes "nonprofits receiving Medicaid expenditures," which would not be eligible for those loans.
This language has been interpreted in some quarters as an effort to deny funding to Planned Parenthood, a longtime GOP target. But Democratic aides think the language means a lot more than this.
Specifically, Democratic aides believe this language would exclude from eligibility for this financial assistance a big range of other nonprofits that get Medicaid funding, such as home and community-based disability providers; community-based nursing homes, mental health providers and health centers; group homes for the disabled; and even rape crisis centers.
Oh. And that's bad, right? Yes, it is.
Shame on their partisan opposition to this partisan giveaway.
A procedural vote on the Republicans' $2 trillion economic stimulus bill failed in the Senate last night after Mitch McConnell brought up the measure even though he knew he didn't have the votes to pass it. The vote to expedite legislation fell far short of the 60 votes it needed, with a 47-to-47-vote tie. Complicating matters for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was the fact that five Republican senators are now in quarantine and unable to show up to vote. Rand Paul's trip to the Senate swimming pool yesterday may mean the virus could spread.
Republicans and Democrats agree on many of the broad goals in the bill, like support for small businesses, money to shore up hospitals and state unemployment systems, and checks that would be sent to all Americans to help them get through the economic downturn the coronavirus pandemic has caused.
But one huge part of the proposal, a $500 billion fund that could be distributed to states and corporations at the Treasury Department's discretion, lacks safeguards against bad corporate behavior — like taking the money and then laying off most of their workforce. Democrats weren't about to support that, and wanted to add at least some of Elizabeth Warren's proposed limits on how the bailout money could be used. Instead, McConnell forced last night's vote, and scheduled a second vote today even though negotiations are still ongoing.
So here's why a coronavirus relief bill is stalled: 1) Republicans proposed a no-strings giveaway to corporations that want the Trump administration to make sweet money love to them. 2) Democrats said fuck no to that. 3) Nonetheless, Democrats said they wanted to keep working toward a bill, by adding in better protections for labor and taxpayers. 4) Knowing he didn't have 60 votes to move the bill forward, Mitch McConnell brought it to a vote anyway, so that it would fail and he could blame Democrats. 5) McConnell professed to be shocked, shocked to learn someone was playing politics with the pandemic.
Other senators piiiiiiissed.
It was inevitable that multiple members of Congress would become infected with the highly contagious COVID-19 virus. It was not inevitable that the Senate's own Typhoid Mary would be a medical doctor who should bloody well know how infectious disease goes. No, not even if that senator is a jackass who made up his own "board" to certify that he's a doctor of ophthalmology in good standing.
Sunday, Kentucky's junior senator tweeted that, despite being "asymptomatic," he'd gotten access to a coronavirus test, which came back positive that morning.
There are several problems with this statement, beginning with the fact that it's not actually true.
Let’s give desperate people scapegoats. What’s the worst that can happen?
Marco Rubio is useless in the best of circumstances, so the coronavirus crisis has cast an intense spotlight on the Florida senator's fecklessness. Friday, Rubio tweeted a video filmed in what looked like his grandmother's dining room. He was dressed casually in a baseball cap and a “Property of Dolphins" T-shirt that indicated he's a fan of the football team based in Miami. That's a good look during a crisis. All that was missing was a few days' beard growth.
He expressed his concerns about the working people who are losing their jobs because states are shutting down businesses in an effort to slow the coronavirus's spread. He was almost compelling.
RUBIO: People are literally getting laid off by the second. I know an entire family of six — the husband, the wife, their two adult kids and their spouses. Everybody got laid off in the last 72 hours. Can you imagine how traumatic that is? Maybe unfortunately you can because you got laid off or your kids got laid off. I'm talking about your local bakery. I'm talking about the dry cleaner you've used for 30 years. I'm talking about mechanics that fix your car. These people are closing their doors. No one knows if they're ever gonna reopen. Their workers don't know if they're ever gonna have another job. That should be our number one focus right now. How can we get cash quickly to those companies so they can at least pay their workers and be able to reopen when the time comes for that.
And Devin Nunes, well, you know what he's still fucking.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy knows who the real victim of the coronavirus pandemic is, and it is ... Kevin McCarthy. No, no, the California congressman from Bakersfield hasn't tested positive for COVID-19. It's much, much worse than that! Poor McCarthy's honor was besmirched, he was cruelly robbed of his dignity, in short, he got dissed by Governor Gavin Newsom, who failed to even consult him before issuing a shelter-in-place order for the entire state of California yesterday.
McCARTHY: California is 12 percent of the nation's population. There are essential things that are produced in California. When you think of the pharmaceutical industry and others based in San Francisco, when you think of the manufacturing that maybe even makes items that we need for masks and others.
I would have thought the governor would have called a number of us to consult and talk to us why he would make this decision. I know I never did get a call from him. But maybe he feels there was a need behind it.
We were given to understand that San Francisco is a filthy hellhole, littered with used needles, where taxpaying citizens feared to walk outside. Who knew they actually made useful shit there! Not Kevin McCarthy, who can't answer any questions about whether "masks and others" are being manufactured in California and will thus be unavailable with non-essential workers sent home. But he can certainly ask about it in a way that implies something nefarious is going down.
WHY DIDN'T GAVIN NEWSOM CALL UP KEVIN McCARTHY TO GET KEVIN'S QUESTIONS? NOW KEVIN HAS TO GO ASK THEM ON FOX, UNFAIR!
Hit them hard and mean every day until November.
Some of you are probably worried about an ABC/Ipsos poll stating that 55 percent of Americans approve of how Donald Trump is managing the coronavirus pandemic. Who are these imbeciles, you might wonder? Pandora managed boxes better than Trump managed the coronavirus response. If it's any consolation, this poll looks like an outlier ... for now.
Americans during a crisis like to feel reassured. Trump goes on TV every day and mostly lies his ass off. He implies that miracle "Star Trek" cures are just around the corner. Yes, he's tanked the stock market during previous addresses to the nation, but it's not a given that Americans are holding him accountable for the "HOLY SHIT" news. This is why it's important that Democrats never let up on hammering him about his fatal incompetence. The stirring speeches Adam Schiff gave during the Senate impeachment trial should occur daily now.
If You're A GOP Senator Who DIDN'T Do Insider Trading After Coronavirus Briefing, Could You Raise Your Hand?
You know, ALLEGEDLY.
A big story was rumbling around all day yesterday, about how GOP Senator Richard Burr, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, had been caught on tape telling fancy bigwig North Carolina constituents on February 27 that actually coronavirus was gonna be real fuckin' bad, and y'all just get ready. At that time, as NPR (which broke the story) notes, Donald Trump was out there saying it was FINE, everything's FINE, coronavirus is going to disappear like a great big miracle. Meanwhile, Fox News was saying it was a DEEP STATE DUMBOCRATIC HOAX, and encouraging its viewers to lick proverbial door handles.
But over there at the Capitol Hill Club at a luncheon for the Tar Heel Circle group of North Carolina movers and shakers, Burr said:
"There's one thing that I can tell you about this: It is much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history," he said, according to a secret recording of the remarks obtained by NPR. "It is probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic."
True fact, senator!
Are you ready for the part where Burr dumped all his stock in industries likely to be affected by the pandemic, while telling Americans something totally different? NOT YET, YOU WAIT!
Sorting out the House and Senate plans because somebody should.
The coronavirus has shut down businesses and confined us to our homes. What is the government doing to save us from economic collapse? Donald Trump signed a $100 billion emergency aid package Wednesday. The bill passed in the House on Friday and bumped around the Senate until yesterday. The coronavirus might take longer to incubate, but damn, let's stop dilly dallying. I've worn the same sweat shirt for five days.
The bill Trump signed will expand paid sick leave and unemployment insurance. The latter is especially critical. Unemployment claims in Oregon, for instance, rose from 800 on Sunday to 18,500 on Tuesday. National levels are even more horrifying at around 630,000 claims in just 15 days. Let's break down the emergency aid package: What it does and doesn't do.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act devotes $400 million to local food banks to provide meals for low-income Americans during the emergency. It'll also provide $500 million in supplemental funds to the Women, Infants, and Children program (WIC). Unfortunately, single mothers are among the first to feel the body blows of closures to restaurants and bars and the reduction of retail shifts.
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