Trump punishes blue states on disaster unemployment aid

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Trump punishes blue states on disaster unemployment aid

Wednesday March 25, 2020 · 11:34 AM EDT Recommend 68  Share  Tweet34 Comments 34 New

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 19: U.S. President Donald Trump answers reporters' questions during a news conference with members of his Coronavirus Task Force in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House March 19, 2020 in Washington, DC. With Americans testing positive from coronavirus rising President Trump is asking Congress for $1 trillion aid package to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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Impeached president Donald Trump is taking his war on blue states to a new level. He has declared California, New York, and Washington state coronavirus disaster areas, but has so far refused to release a key part of that designation: unemployment assistance.

That’s specific, disaster-related unemployment insurance to go to workers who aren’t eligible for traditional UI, like gig economy workers. Under the program, they can receive 26 weeks of benefits if their job loss is a result of the disaster, either because their position has been eliminated or they can’t get to their job site. When the disaster was declared—March 20 in New York and March 22 in California and Washington—the Federal Emergency Management Agency said that “federal emergency aid has been made available.” The unemployment funds, however, have not been released.

Politico reports that the only aid the administration has released to the three states has been for “crisis counseling,” and that a “senior administration official said the administration is holding off on approving requests for disaster unemployment assistance because it anticipates Congress will provide similar protections in the coronavirus stimulus package under negotiation.” Given the flux we’ve seen in the last five days on that legislation, that’s a bullshit excuse.

“We appreciate that the federal government has recognized the severity of the public health emergency,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said; however, that declaration did not “unlock many forms of federal assistance we have requested to help workers.” Jack Sterne, a spokesperson for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, added, “It is time for the federal government to provide Disaster Unemployment Assistance to New Yorkers.”

Inslee and three other governors—Mike Dunleavy (R-Alaska), Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), and J.B. Pritzker (D-Illinois)—wrote to Trump on Tuesday, urging him to free up the funds and move faster in declaring disasters for all their states. “Even as states enact policies to flexibly provide unemployment insurance to those in need,” the governors wrote, “we are still leaving many hourly and independent workers behind who desperately need assistance during this crisis.”

Trump Hoping to See US Economy Reopened by Easter Amid Virus

GIVING THE PRESIDENT HIS DUE BEFORE THE CRITICISM:

  1. HE HAS FINALLY “GOTTEN” IT (?) AND BEHIND MOBILIZING, FOR HIM AND REPUBLICANS, A HUGE PROACTIVE AID PACKAGE FOR ‘SAVING THE COUNTRY’
  2. i’M GOING TO SAY HE MEANS WELL AND SO HAS GOTTEN OUT OF HIS COMFORT ZONE.
  3. BY THE VERY LOW STANDARDS OF GOVERNMENT ACTIVISM FOR TRUMP AND THIS COHORT OF HIS SUPPORTERS (A MINORITY OF REGISTERED VOTERS), HE HAS FINALLY RISEN TO THE OCCASION.

THE PROBLEMS WITH THE PRESIDENT’S MAGICAL THINKING:

  1. EVERY SCIENTIST, MEDICAL PERSON, MOST JOURNALISTS AND STATE GOVERNORS RECOGNIZE THAT THE IDEA OF SOME RETUR TO NORMALITY BY APRIL 12TH EASTER WE WILL ALL BE HUGGING AND GOING TO CHURCH TO CELEBRATE IS SHEER FANTASY. IF THIS BELIEF INFLUENCES HIS POLICY MOVES, HE WILL BEAR CRIMINAL REPEAT CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR FEDERAL UNDER-ACTION, (NOT INACTION BUT LESS THAN NEEDED ACTION)

2. HIS STRESS AND HIS LAP-DOG MIKE PENCES’S BRIEFINGS ON THE HEROIC MEASURES HE IS TAKING AND THAT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WILL APPRECIATE THIS, BE BEHIND HIM, SING KUM-BAA-YAA’S OF GRATITUDE.

3. THE PROBLEMS WITH THIS ANALYSIS ARE THAT ANY, REPEAT ANY PRESIDENT FACED WITH THIS WORLD WAR TWO-GREAT DEPRRESSION-1918 FLU PANDEMIC WOULD BE DOING EVERYTHING HE IS DOING AT LEAST AS MUCH AND PROBABLY MUCH MORE. HE IS MUCH CLOSER TO HERBERT HOOVER OR OR JAMES BUCHANAN THAN TO EVEN GW BUSH WITH 9.11 MUCH LESS ROOSEVELT.

4. TRUMP’S DIE-HARD SUPPORTERS AND THE UNINFORMED PUBLIC SEE HIM AS SOME SORT OF MACHO HERO: NOT SO. AS BIDEN SAID, HE DID NOT CAUSE THE VIRUS OR ENABLE IT (OF COURSE!), HE HAS JUST BEEN BEHIND THE CURVE SINCE DAY 1. THOUSANDS WILL ALREADY DIE BECAUSE OF HIS SLOW, SKEPTICAL EARLIER RESPONSE. THIS IS NOT “HUMAN ERROR” THIS IS CRIMINAL REPEAT CRIMINAL NEGLECT.

HIS RHETORIC HAS IMPROVED AND HE IS DEFINITELY “ON IT” COMPARED WITH A MONTH AGO. BUT THE DAMAGE HAS BEEN DONE. PRAISE GOD THAT HE IS FINALLY BEGINNING TO GET IT. OR IS IT? WE’LL SING TOGETHER IN CHURCH BY EASTER LOOKING BACK ON THIS THING IS SERIOUS MISINFORMATION. IT IS FANTASY. IT IS KILLING PEOPLE. THIS IS ALREADY TRUMP’S KATRINA. BUT THIS IS NOT 2005. IT IS 2020. AN ELECTION YEAR. BYE-BYE MR, PRESIDENT. THE UKRAINE IMPEACHMENT WAS INDEED PEANUTS COMPARED TO THIS .

+Trump Hoping to See US Economy Reopened by Easter Amid Virus

By The Associated Press

  • March 24, 2020Updated 5:08 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON — With lives and the economy hanging in the balance, President Donald Trump said Tuesday he is hoping the United States will be reopened by Easter as he weighs how to relax nationwide social-distancing guidelines to put some workers back on the job during the coronavirus outbreak.

As many public health officials call for stricter — not looser — restrictions on public interactions, Trump said he was already looking toward easing the advisories that have sidelined workers, shuttered schools and led to a widespread economic slowdown.

“I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter,” he said during a Fox News virtual town hall. Easter is just over two weeks away — Apr. 12.

“Wouldn’t it be great to have all of the churches full,” Trump said in a subsequent interview. “You’ll have packed churches all over our country.”

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Health experts have made clear that unless Americans continue to dramatically limit social interaction — staying home from work and isolating themselves — the number of infections will overwhelm the health care system, as it has in parts of Italy, leading to many more deaths. While the worst outbreaks are concentrated in certain parts of the country, such as New York, experts warn that the highly infectious disease is certain to spread.

The U.S. is now more than a week into an unprecedented 15-day effort to encourage all Americans to drastically scale back their public activities. The guidelines, issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are voluntary, but many state and local leaders have issued mandatory restrictions in line with, or even tighter than, those issued by the CDC.

On Monday, the U.S. saw its biggest jump yet in the death toll from the virus, with more than 650 American deaths now attributed to COVID-19. Trump’s comments come after dire warnings by officials in hard-hit areas. New York. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his state’s hospital system will soon hit a breaking point — resulting in avoidable deaths — even with the restrictions already in place.

“I gave it two weeks,” Trump said during the town hall from the Rose Garden. He argued that tens of thousands of Americans die each year from the seasonal flu and in automobile accidents and “we don’t turn the country off.”

When the 15-day period ends next Monday, he said, “We’ll assess at that time and we’ll give it some more time if we need a little more time, but we need to open this country up.” He added, “We have to go back to work, much sooner than people thought.”

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Trump’s Easter target was not immediately embraced by Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator for the White House task force, who indicated any move would have to be guided by data still being collected. She suggested that public health professionals could recommend a general easing, while pushing for local restrictions to remain in the hardest-hit areas.

Trump acknowledged that some want the guidance to continue, but claimed without providing evidence that keeping the guidance in place would lead to deaths from suicide and depression.

“I’m sure that we have doctors that would say, ‘Let’s keep it closed for two years,'” Trump said. “No, we got to get it open.”

He added, “This cure is worse than the problem.”

Trump’s reassessment comes as the White House is encouraging lawmakers on Capitol Hill to pass a roughly $2 trillion stimulus package to ease the financial pain for Americans and hard-hit industries.

Trump’s enthusiasm for getting people back to work comes as he takes stock of the political toll the outbreak is taking. It sets up a potential conflict with medical professionals, including many within his government, who have called for more social restrictions to slow the spread of the virus, not fewer.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases and a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, did not appear at the virtual town hall, but Trump denied there were any tensions between the two men.

Lawmakers have suggested they’ll look to Fauci for guidance on when the restrictions should be lifted.

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“I’m going to take my lead from Anthony Fauci,” Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., said on CNN. “That’s the person I trust, that’s the person Americans trust.

Fauci told WMAL radio in Washington on Tuesday that Trump has always heeded his recommendations.

“The president has listened to what I have said and to what the other people on the task force have said,” Fauci said. “When I have made recommendations he has taken them. He’s never countered or overridden me, the idea of just pitting one against the other is just not helpful.”

Larry Kudlow, Trump’s top economic adviser, told reporters Tuesday that “public health includes economic health.”

“That’s the key point. And it’s not either-or. It’s not either-or, and that’s why we’re taking a fresh look at it,” he said.

During a private conference call with roughly 30 conservative leaders on Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence reinforced Trump’s eagerness to lift coronavirus-related work and travel restrictions “in a matter of weeks, not months.”

When pressed on a specific timeline for lifting restrictions, Pence said there would be no formal decisions made until the current 15-day period of social distancing was complete, according to a conference call participant who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details of the private discussion.

Pence told the group that accommodations would need to be made for the highest-risk populations if and when restrictions begin to be lifted.

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Despite Trump’s rosy talk, other elements of the government were digging in for the long haul. Top defense and military leaders on Tuesday warned department personnel that the virus problems could extend for eight to 10 weeks, or even into the summer.

Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a Defense Department town hall meeting that restrictions could go into late May or June, possibly even July. He said there are a variety of models from other countries, so the exact length of the virus and necessary restrictions are not yet clear.

——

Associated Press writers Lita Baldor in Washington and Steve Peoples in New York contributed to this report.

The Trump Presidency Is Over

ATLANTIC MONTHLY

WELL IT WAS OVER A LONG TIME AGO BUT HERE IS EVIDENCE OF THE DEATHBLOW. Shiels/ Progressive Future

It has taken a good deal longer than it should have, but Americans have now seen the con man behind the curtain.MARCH 13, 2020Peter WehnerContributing writer at The Atlantic and senior fellow at EPPCEnjoy unlimited access to The Atlantic for less than $1 per week.Sign inSubscribe Now

BASTIAAN SLABBERS / NURPHOTO / GETTY
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Editor’s Note: The Atlantic is making vital coverage of the coronavirus available to all readers. Find the collection here.

When, in January 2016, I wrote that despite being a lifelong Republican who worked in the previous three GOP administrations, I would never vote for Donald Trump, even though his administration would align much more with my policy views than a Hillary Clinton presidency would, a lot of my Republican friends were befuddled. How could I not vote for a person who checked far more of my policy boxes than his opponent?

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What I explained then, and what I have said many times since, is that Trump is fundamentally unfit—intellectually, morally, temperamentally, and psychologically—for office. For me, that is the paramount consideration in electing a president, in part because at some point it’s reasonable to expect that a president will face an unexpected crisis—and at that point, the president’s judgment and discernment, his character and leadership ability, will really matter.

David Frum: The worst outcome

“Mr. Trump has no desire to acquaint himself with most issues, let alone master them” is how I put it four years ago. “No major presidential candidate has ever been quite as disdainful of knowledge, as indifferent to facts, as untroubled by his benightedness.” I added this:

Mr. Trump’s virulent combination of ignorance, emotional instability, demagogy, solipsism and vindictiveness would do more than result in a failed presidency; it could very well lead to national catastrophe. The prospect of Donald Trump as commander in chief should send a chill down the spine of every American.

It took until the second half of Trump’s first term, but the crisis has arrived in the form of the coronavirus pandemic, and it’s hard to name a president who has been as overwhelmed by a crisis as the coronavirus has overwhelmed Donald Trump.

MORE BY PETER WEHNER

To be sure, the president isn’t responsible for either the coronavirus or the disease it causes, COVID-19, and he couldn’t have stopped it from hitting our shores even if he had done everything right. Nor is it the case that the president hasn’t done anything right; in fact, his decision to implement a travel ban on China was prudent. And any narrative that attempts to pin all of the blame on Trump for the coronavirus is simply unfair. The temptation among the president’s critics to use the pandemic to get back at Trump for every bad thing he’s done should be resisted, and schadenfreude is never a good look.

That said, the president and his administration are responsible for grave, costly errors, most especially the epic manufacturing failures in diagnostic testing, the decision to test too few people, the delay in expanding testing to labs outside the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and problems in the supply chain. These mistakes have left us blind and badly behind the curve, and, for a few crucial weeks, they created a false sense of security. What we now know is that the coronavirus silently spread for several weeks, without us being aware of it and while we were doing nothing to stop it. Containment and mitigation efforts could have significantly slowed its spread at an early, critical point, but we frittered away that opportunity.

“They’ve simply lost time they can’t make up. You can’t get back six weeks of blindness,” Jeremy Konyndyk, who helped oversee the international response to Ebola during the Obama administration and is a senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development, told The Washington Post. “To the extent that there’s someone to blame here, the blame is on poor, chaotic management from the White House and failure to acknowledge the big picture.”

Ben Rhodes: How Trump designed his White House to fail

Earlier this week, Anthony Fauci, the widely respected director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases whose reputation for honesty and integrity has been only enhanced during this crisis, admitted in congressional testimony that the United States is still not providing adequate testing for the coronavirus. “It is failing. Let’s admit it.” He added, “The idea of anybody getting [testing] easily, the way people in other countries are doing it, we’re not set up for that. I think it should be, but we’re not.”

We also know the World Health Organization had working tests that the United States refused, and researchers at a project in Seattle tried to conduct early tests for the coronavirus but were prevented from doing so by federal officials. (Doctors at the research project eventually decided to perform coronavirus tests without federal approval.)

But that’s not all. The president reportedly ignored early warnings of the severity of the virus and grew angry at a CDC official who in February warned that an outbreak was inevitable. The Trump administration dismantled the National Security Council’s global-health office, whose purpose was to address global pandemics; we’re now paying the price for that. “We worked very well with that office,” Fauci told Congress. “It would be nice if the office was still there.” We may face a shortage of ventilators and medical supplies, and hospitals may soon be overwhelmed, certainly if the number of coronavirus cases increases at a rate anything like that in countries such as Italy. (This would cause not only needless coronavirus-related deaths, but deaths from those suffering from other ailments who won’t have ready access to hospital care.)

Yascha Mounk: The extraordinary decisions facing Italian doctors

Some of these mistakes are less serious and more understandable than others. One has to take into account that in government, when people are forced to make important decisions based on incomplete information in a compressed period of time, things go wrong.

Yet in some respects, the avalanche of false information from the president has been most alarming of all. It’s been one rock slide after another, the likes of which we have never seen. Day after day after day he brazenly denied reality, in an effort to blunt the economic and political harm he faced. But Trump is in the process of discovering that he can’t spin or tweet his way out of a pandemic. There is no one who can do to the coronavirus what Attorney General William Barr did to the Mueller report: lie about it and get away with it.

The president’s misinformation and mendacity about the coronavirus are head-snapping. He claimed that it was contained in America when it was actually spreading. He claimed that we had “shut it down” when we had not. He claimed that testing was available when it wasn’t. He claimed that the coronavirus will one day disappear “like a miracle”; it won’t. He claimed that a vaccine would be available in months; Fauci says it will not be available for a year or more.

Trump falsely blamed the Obama administration for impeding coronavirus testing. He stated that the coronavirus first hit the United States later than it actually did. (He said that it was three weeks prior to the point at which he spoke; the actual figure was twice that.) The president claimed that the number of cases in Italy was getting “much better” when it was getting much worse. And in one of the more stunning statements an American president has ever made, Trump admitted that his preference was to keep a cruise ship off the California coast rather than allowing it to dock, because he wanted to keep the number of reported cases of the coronavirus artificially low.

“I like the numbers,” Trump said. “I would rather have the numbers stay where they are. But if they want to take them off, they’ll take them off. But if that happens, all of a sudden your 240 [cases] is obviously going to be a much higher number, and probably the 11 [deaths] will be a higher number too.” (Cooler heads prevailed, and over the president’s objections, the Grand Princess was allowed to dock at the Port of Oakland.)

On and on it goes.  

To make matters worse, the president delivered an Oval Office address that was meant to reassure the nation and the markets but instead shook both. The president’s delivery was awkward and stilted; worse, at several points, the president, who decided to ad-lib the teleprompter speech, misstated his administration’s own policies, which the administration had to correct. Stock futures plunged even as the president was still delivering his speech. In his address, the president called for Americans to “unify together as one nation and one family,” despite having referred to Washington Governor Jay Inslee as a “snake” days before the speech and attacking Democrats the morning after it. As The Washington Post’s Dan Balz put it, “Almost everything that could have gone wrong with the speech did go wrong.”

Read: You’re likely to get the coronavirus

Taken together, this is a massive failure in leadership that stems from a massive defect in character. Trump is such a habitual liar that he is incapable of being honest, even when being honest would serve his interests. He is so impulsive, shortsighted, and undisciplined that he is unable to plan or even think beyond the moment. He is such a divisive and polarizing figure that he long ago lost the ability to unite the nation under any circumstances and for any cause. And he is so narcissistic and unreflective that he is completely incapable of learning from his mistakes. The president’s disordered personality makes him as ill-equipped to deal with a crisis as any president has ever been. With few exceptions, what Trump has said is not just useless; it is downright injurious.

The nation is recognizing this, treating him as a bystander “as school superintendents, sports commissioners, college presidents, governors and business owners across the country take it upon themselves to shut down much of American life without clear guidance from the president,” in the words of Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman of The New York Times.

Donald Trump is shrinking before our eyes.

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.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.PETER WEHNER is a contributing writer at The Atlantic, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and Egan visiting professor at Duke University. He writes widely on political, cultural, religious, and national-security issues, and he is the author of The Death of Politics: How to Heal Our Frayed Republic After Trump.

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