Opinion: Hateful GOP Belief That Americans Are Lazy Drives Resistance To Providing Coronavirus Relief

Trump - McConnell

Are the majority of Americans lazy and averse to work? Would they prefer not to work and to enjoy a free ride from the government?

How we answer this question, or how congressional leaders answer it, has a lot to do with what is really life-or-death legislation coming out of Washington, particularly with regards to COVID-19 relief packages. read more

1.3 Million More People File for Unemployment as Enhanced Benefits Are Set to Expire

1.3 million more Americans filed for unemployment last week. Although the number of new unemployment claims has dropped over the last four months, several states have been forced to shutter their economies once again after reopening too early, contributing to a spike in cases. In particular, Florida, Texas, and Arizona have become the nation’s new hotspots in the current surge.

The additional $600 the government gives to those collecting unemployment is set to expire on July 31st. However, Congress “is inching closer to an agreement to extend at least some” of the enhanced unemployment benefit, according to The Los Angeles Times. Lawmakers face a tight deadline when they return from their break to discuss another relief package.

“The extra $600 per week has been an absolute lifeline for these Americans,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.) said yesterday, adding that it would be “cruel” to allow the benefit to expire.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) vowed to have a package ready for President Donald Trump to sign before Congress leaves on its traditional August recess.

“We’ll have a bill and hopefully we’ll have it sooner rather than later because people really need to have it, and we should have it before the expiration of the unemployment insurance,” Pelosi said yesterday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) confirmed Congress will begin discussing unemployment benefits next week. He did not specify how much aid individuals could expect to receive. Republicans and the White House have supported a decrease in the benefit amount.

Trump: Coronavirus Is “A Much Smarter Enemy” Than Democrats and Russia Investigators

Donald Trump thinks Covid-19 is a more intelligent adversary than his political opponents. The President appeared to praise the virus’ intellect during a rambling Fox News interview.

Trump spoke to Fox & Friends for around 50 minutes on Friday and covered a wide range of subjects. The hosts asked him about the Department of Justice decision to drop the case against Michael Flynn.

Trump said the move “absolutely” proved

the Russia investigation was a hoax read more

Joe Biden: Trump Should Be ‘Working Around the Clock’ as the Economy ‘Sheds Millions of Jobs’

Joe Biden thinks the President should be working 24/7 as the U.S. unemployment rate continues to rise. The former vice president accused Donald Trump of doing nothing.

Unemployment claims have risen to around 26.5 million following reports today that a further 4.4 million people filed for assistance. This figure is unprecedented.

Biden said in a statement that every unemployment number represented “a life thrown into uncertainty” and ” community worried about how it will recover.”

“Every worker left wondering when they will next see a paycheck is part of this American crisis – and Donald Trump isn’t doing enough for them,” he said.

“Instead of standing by while the economy sheds millions of jobs each week during this pandemic, Trump should be working around the clock to keep as many people as possible attached to their jobs.”

“That’s what I would be doing if I were in the Oval Office right now. ”

Biden said Trump is failing to use the CARES Act to keep Americans on payroll.

“I would be doing everything in my power to expand short-time compensation programs for workers,” Biden said.

He explained that he would use the tools in the act to keep people in their jobs, while helping businesses. He called this “employment insurance” and slammed Trump for not adopting the idea.

“Trump hasn’t done anything discernible to make this happen,” Biden said.

“Instead, the entirely predictable has occurred: state unemployment systems are being stretched beyond capacity, and workers are anxiously waiting for their checks as the bills pile up. ”

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GOP’s Florida Debacle Raises Question: Will Coronavirus Change the Way Americans Think About Unemployment?

Americans enduring unemployment have typically, in the culture of the U.S. political economy, not been responded to with sympathy but rather with disdain, judgment, and blame.

And this has been true, we see, even when the nation has faced conditions of great economic austerity, begging the question, how can we blame people for not working when there is a scarcity of jobs? read more

Trump Administration Asks States to Delay Release of Unemployment Numbers

The New York Times reports that President Donald Trump’s administration is asking state officials to delay the release of unemployment numbers in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which sent a shockwave through the economy and forced many out of work after businesses shuttered.

The Department of Labor asked state officials in an email to only “provide information using generalities to describe claims levels (very high, large increase)” and place the exact unemployment numbers under embargo.

Gay Gilbert, the administrator of the department’s Office of Employment Insurance advised states to “not provide numerical values to the public.”

The Times noted there was no indication Gilbert was pressured to make her request.

281,000 Americans filed unemployment claims last week. Economists for Goldman Sachs predicted that 2.25 million Americans filed for unemployment this week.

The federal government has allowed states to expand their eligibility rules for unemployment as a result of the crisis.

“President Trump has made the safety, security, and health of the American people his top priority. The Administration is using all available tools to decrease the risk of coronavirus in the United States and to assist workers who may be affected,” stated Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia on March 12. “Under the guidance issued today, states have greater assurance about the circumstances in which they are authorized to extend unemployment insurance benefits to Americans whose employment has been disrupted by coronavirus.”

The White House has proposed an economic relief plan: a $1 trillion economic stimulus that would directly hand checks to Americans. Details of the plan are still being fleshed out.

“It is a big number. This is a very unique situation in this economy,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday. “The government has requested that parts of this economy shut down.”

Opinion: American Lives Depend on Telling True Story of Trump’s Life-Destroying Economy

What is the story of the U.S. economy?

Not unlike the proverbial elephant subject to scrutiny by a band of blind men, the nation’s economy is subject to multiple narrative descriptions depending on which component of the beast, whether our economy or an elephant, the blind man massages.

Some media pundits have argued that the historically low unemployment rates combined with record stock market performances attest to a strong economy that would propel Trump to victory in 2020 if only he were disciplined enough to stay on point about the economy, stupid.

Others claim focusing on these numbers is akin to grasping the trunk and the tail of the elephant, missing the bigger and much more accurate picture of an economy that has not just failed but actively assaulted the vast majority of Americans.  MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle, for example, has been unrelenting in fleshing out this more comprehensive narrative, insisting, among other points, that the stock market and the overall economy are not the same thing.

It may very well be the more compelling storyteller, or the storyteller who gets access to the most air time, who tilts the 2020 election.

Robert Shiller’s recent splashy book Narrative Economics underscores this point in a general way, arguing that the popular and viral narratives purveyed about the economy don’t so much describe the economy but drive the economic events themselves, regardless of the truth value of the story itself.

As the Yale University professor and Nobel-prize winning economist told CNBC, “It may not be so logical. It may be more, as I said, of animal spirits. This is an emotion that you feel at a certain time that you sense you see in other people. So when you see other people feeling confident about the market, you feel more confident yourself.”

He attributes recent market strength, for example, to Trump’s storytelling prowess: “He’s a motivational speaker. We’ve never had a motivational speaker president before. He knows how to create animal spirits.”

What cannot be emphasized enough, however, is the importance of a crafting an economic narrative that aligns as closely as possible with our economic reality, generating the most effective understanding of the dynamics and performance of the economy–for good decision-making by voters and good policy-making by legislators.

How we tell this story is vital to lives of the American majority, which is why Shiller’s applause for Trump’s motivational stirring of animal spirits is absolutely misplaced and damaging to American lives.

As we get a hold of the entire elephant of the Trump economy, we find an economy on a sugar high, thriving on taxpayer debt, enriching even further the already wealthy, and heading for a crash.

As we limn this elephant, let’s start with the national debt and deficit. Trump inherited a strong economy, and it is typically during healthy economic times that the government pays down the national debt. But both the deficit and debt have grown under Trump’s administration, largely because of his tax cuts that served largely the wealthy.

Reports indicated that in October the federal government’s budget deficit ballooned 34% from a year earlier to $134.5 billion, projecting that the annual deficit will top $1 trillion for the first time in eight years.

The national debt, meanwhile, has surged beyond $22 trillion.

Hmmm. If the economy is booming, shouldn’t the federal government’s coffers be filling up and not depleting?

We can certainly understand how in a time of recession the government would need to provide economic stimulus and thus run a deficit, but when the economy is supposedly experiencing record performance?

When Trump slashed corporate tax rates from 35 to 21 percent, we were told, as usual, that these tax cuts would pay for themselves, create an economy that enriches us all.

Basically, Trump is using the credit of the American worker to enrich corporate America and the wealthiest of Americans. It’s as if, for most Americans, someone maxed out their credit cards and yet they got none of the benefit of the goods and services purchased.

These tax cuts benefited the wealthy and did not trickle down, despite Trump’s promises that companies would invest in workers and not cut jobs. Companies like AT&T, Wells Fargo, and General Motors lobbied for them, promising to re-invest their tax savings in their workers and companies to the benefit off the nation as a whole. And yet all of these companies have engaged in massive layoffs or plant closings. AT&T has eliminated over 23,000 jobs since the tax cuts went into effect, despite receiving a $21 billion windfall from the tax cuts with the prospect of cashing in an additional $3 billion annually in tax savings. In November 2018, GM announced it would be closing five plants, eliminating 14,000 jobs in communities across Ohio, Maryland, Michigan, and Ontario, Canada, while buying back $10 billion in stock and earning a net profit of $8 billion on which the company paid no federal tax. Other automakers have also slashed thousands of jobs, saving billions of dollars.Wells Fargo did raise the minimum wage of its employees, though the tax savings for the company were 47 times larger than the cost of that pay raise to the company; and the company announced its plans in September 2018 to eliminate 26,000 jobs, at the same time that it has raised health insurance costs for its employees.

Meanwhile,

homelessness in the U.S. read more