Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Video Produced by Normal Content
One hundred and seventy‑two years ago this May, an automotive pioneer was born. Bertha Benz, who played a major role in the invention of the automobile, is credited with achievements that now span over a century.
Through her financial support, her husband Karl Benz embarked upon his vision: patenting the Motorwagen. From there, she took this venture further.
In 1888, Bertha Benz set out for the first long‑distance drive in history — a journey that would show the world the future of mobility.
On that inaugural drive, she solved engineering issues with her brilliant resourcefulness: cleaning a fuel line with her hat pin, using her garter as insulation and inventing brake pads with leather from a cobbler.
The unwavering perseverance of her journey led to great publicity and further production of the Motorwagen.
Today, tourists and locals alike can drive the Bertha Benz Memorial Route in Baden‑Württemberg, Germany, the site of the first long‑distance road trip. Join us in celebrating the pioneering spirit of Bertha Benz, and may her legacy continue to inspire future innovators.
By CRAIG FISHBANE
Poor grades.(Luiz C. Ribeiro/for New York Daily News)
As New York has become the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor de Blasio has become emblematic of a different type of dysfunctional governance. Although no one can deny that he is genuinely committed to helping the poor and marginalized, the mayor has made New Yorkers pay the price for his grandiose vision of himself as a moral leader.
There had already been signs that de Blasio was not prepared to deal with the gritty realities and hard choices of governance. His short-lived run for the presidency was as buffoonish as it was delusional. He was absent from the city during a paralyzing summer blackout in 2019. And he hired a schools chancellor who has needlessly pitted Asian-American families against African-American and Latino ones.
In each case, there was an unlikely blend of grandiosity and incompetence. He has set himself up as the liberal standard-bearer who stands for all that is good in progressive politics. In his own mind, accomplishments apparently mean less than intentions. The very righteousness of his ideas is all that counts.
Now, in as stark a crisis as New York City has ever faced, the mayor managed to all at once deny the pending dangers of the coronavirus and then to overreact.
To start, whether it was his reluctance to cancel the St. Patrick’s Day Parade or close Broadway theaters or shut down restaurants and bars, the mayor dithered when he needed to be decisive. It appears he could not let the coming pandemic ruin his own vision of a prosperous, progressive city.
His mishandling of the need to close the schools was an almost predictable outcome of his personal rigidity. The mayor had convened with emergency management officials as early as January to discuss how to handle potential school closings. But in March, as cases of the virus grew exponentially, the city still did not have a plan to accommodate the city’s 1.1 million students.
As pressure mounted, de Blasio insisted that the schools were necessary to provide food and other essential services to the hundreds of thousands of students who lived in poverty. He became so fixed on an image of himself as a man who helped needy children that he failed to see how many staff members and family members he placed at risk by maintaining packed cafeterias and overcrowded classrooms. The problem grew so serious that city health officials threatened to quit and the governor had to step in to order the schools closed.
Once the mayor was forced to accept the inevitable, his entire tone began to change. He switched from downplaying the pandemic to nearly panicking about it.
He declared that a shelter-in-place order might be imminent, conjuring images of families huddled in fallout shelters. He went from encouraging New Yorkers to celebrate the Chinese New Year in crowded parades and restaurants to threatening to permanently close places of worship that continue holding religious services. In increasingly impotent tones, he is blaming the federal government, including a president he calls “Herbert Hoover,” as he seeks to deny personal accountability for the city’s delayed response to the crisis.
De Blasio’s failure of leadership is a direct result of the flaws in his personality. While his ideals and aspirations are admirable, his unwillingness to concede that the necessities of life can supersede our grander ambitions has left the city in a state of anxious uncertainty. While the mayor tries to present himself as a self-styled Winston Churchill, his unreliability has given him all the credibility of a church mouse.
Fishbane, a writer, lives in Brooklyn.
Monday, March 30, 2020
As we conducted extensive research into original documents to uncover hidden black history for our 400-year black history book project, we discovered that black history was being deliberately re-written to keep black Americans corralled into an ideological corner, so that our thoughts and actions could be controlled.
We also noted that the same was being done to American history in general along a parallel track.
Those two tracks converged with the deceptive NYT’s “1619 Project.”
In our view: “Knowledge Is Power.”
“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” ― George Orwell
“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.” ― Carl Sagan
For more details acquire the ebook “Black History 1619-2019: Revealing and Counteracting Revisionist African-American History” available on Amazon at:
Sunday, March 29, 2020
By J. Frank Bullitt | I & I Editorial Board
Robert A. Rohde
It wasn’t long ago, just in recent days, in fact, that we were being told the coronavirus was going to kill more than 2 million Americans. But some researchers are indicating the forecasts of doom were driven by faulty models.
What then, are we supposed to make of the models that have been fueling the global warming hysteria?The forecast used to predict 2.2 million U.S. deaths and 510,000 deaths in Great Britain was produced by Imperial College in London. It is “the epidemiological modeling which has informed policymaking in the United Kingdom and other countries in recent weeks.”
OK, but is the information reliable? Epidemiologist Sunetra Gupta is doubtful.
“I am surprised that there has been such unqualified acceptance of the Imperial model,” he said in the Financial Times.
Gupta’s team of researchers at Oxford believe both the hospitalization and mortality rates are much lower than the worst estimates, and immunity is more widespread than previously thought.
The Wall Street Journal has published an op-ed from professors of medicine at Stanford who said “projections of the death toll” reaching 2 million to 4 million “could plausibly be orders of magnitude too high.” They believe “epidemiological modelers haven’t adequately adapted their estimates to account for” a number of important factors.We can’t say for sure which model has it right. Will deaths be in the millions? Or will coronavirus be less lethal than the seasonal flu?
But we can say that at least one of the models is wrong.
So what does this tell us about the climate models that officials keep telling us are evidence that man is overheating his only planet? The lesson is that we shouldn’t put our full trust in the global warming alarmists’ claims. But then independent thinkers have known for some time the climate models are far from perfect:
Six years ago, Reason’s Ronald Bailey noted that “most temperature records show that since 1998 the models and observed average global temperatures have parted ways. The temperatures in the models continue to rise, while the real climate has refused to warm up much during the last 15 years.
In 2017, Bailey reported that, according to a “fascinating new study” in Nature Geoscience, “climate computer model projections of future man-made warming due to human emissions of carbon dioxide are running too hot.”
Last year, John Christy, a professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Hunstville, told the British Parliament “an early look at some of the latest generation of climate models reveals they are predicting even faster warming. This is simply not credible.”
Also last year, author Guy Sorman wrote in City Journal the models used by United Nations scientists cannot “explain why the climate suddenly cooled between 1950 and 1970, giving rise to widespread warnings about the onset of a new ice age.”
Climatologist Judith Curry has also said the models “seem to be running too hot.”
Christy’s university colleague Roy Spencer, a former NASA climate scientist, says “global warming projections have a large element of faith programmed into them” because “we have no idea how much warming” is caused by carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas the political left has chosen to vilify.
A little more than a year ago, climate researcher Patrick J. Michaels noted the authors of a paper published in Nature Climate Change “show that the aggregate models are making huge errors in three of the places on earth that are critical to our understanding of climate.”
Despite the healthy skepticism from scientists who have been studying the climate for decades and have held prominent academic positions, the Democrat-media powered narrative never sleeps. But that’s what we expect from those who are ever searching for a crisis to take advantage of.
Saturday, March 28, 2020
By John Hinderaker | Powerline
New York Governor Andy Cuomo, like President Trump, is delivering daily coronavirus briefings. Unlike President Trump, he is being swooned over by liberal reporters. At American Greatness, Julie Kelly collects some examples. Here is just one:
“If social media is a reflection of how people are feeling, Cuomo’s image during the coronavirus outbreak is one of authority, yet hope—a role people value enough to begin visualizing his presidency,” one smitten CBS News reporter cooed.
This is odd, if only because New York is the epicenter of COVID-19 infection in the U.S. The disease is more widespread there, and more problematic, than anywhere else. According to the CDC, New York has 38,977 COVID-19 cases out of the country’s 85,356, vastly more than any other state. California has 3,777, and Washington 3,207. So why would those in charge of New York’s response to the epidemic be held up as heroes, and Cuomo touted as a replacement for Joe Biden as Democratic presidential nominee?
The fact that New York is the epicenter of the COVID crisis in the U.S. is no coincidence. It flows from the policies of Governor Cuomo and New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio, as well as New York City’s nature as an international hub and a closely-packed city. Back to Julie Kelly:
[N]either Cuomo nor New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio deserve attaboys. A toxic combination of Big Apple hubris, devotion to open borders regardless of the imminent threat, and Trump-hating obstinacy fueled a stubborn strategy that left their citizens vulnerable for months.
Further, New York’s political leaders have acknowledged that the world’s financial capital—a city home to nearly 9 million people, the most densely populated city in the country—has no comprehensive plan to deal with a pandemic or any viral public health threat.
Governor Cuomo came very late to the effort to shut down the Chinese virus:
By January 31, the day President Trump suspended flights from China, “outbreaks were already growing in over 30 cities across 26 countries, most seeded by travelers from Wuhan,” according to one model by the New York Times.
But even by late February, Cuomo boasted about his state’s accessibility to foreign travelers—his state, the governor said on February 26, is the “front door” for visitors from around the world—while only instituting voluntary quarantines for suspected coronavirus carriers.
“Our operating paradigm has always been, prepare for the worst but hope for the best,” Cuomo said.
That paradigm, apparently, did not include prohibiting hundreds of thousands of potentially infected travelers from entering his state since January. Tourists and business travelers continued to pour into the Big Apple during the first several days of March without any comprehensive screening or restrictions.
Cuomo this week again bragged about his state’s open arms, which resulted in New York’s current crisis. The reason New York now has so many more cases of coronavirus, even more than California, is “because we welcome people from across the globe,” he said on March 25. “We have people coming here, we have people who came here from China, who came here from Italy, who came here from all across the globe.”
Nice going, Governor! Open borders take priority over everything, including your own constituents’ lives.
New York’s hospitals are overburdened and experiencing problems, but this is not a recent development:
A public policy researcher in 2015 detailed long waits in New York City emergency rooms. The head of the emergency department for the Mount Sinai hospital system quit in 2018 after less than a year on the job.
“I had to follow my moral compass and leave and decide this is not an organization that cares for patients,” Dr. Eric Barton told the New York Post.
Last year, city nurses threatened to strike due to overcrowding at three major hospital systems. “Nurse Anthony Ciampa said he had to choose recently between feeding an elderly patient at New York Presbyterian and treating several acutely ill patients because there weren’t enough other nurses on duty,” according to a March 2019 report in the Daily News.
And the outcry about ventilators? State officials were informed several years ago that the stockpile of ventilators was woefully inadequate to handle a severe pandemic. But instead of preparing for a looming crisis and buying 16,000 ventilators, the state’s health commissioner formed a task force to develop a system to ration the life-saving equipment. The task force “came up with rules that will be imposed when ventilators run short,” the New York Post reported last week.
Now, of course, the same incompetent reporters who are swooning over Cuomo blame President Trump for longstanding problems in New York’s hospital system.
In a sane world, the idea that the governor of the state with by far the worst coronavirus record would be singled out for praise by reporters would be unthinkable. But of course, we do not live in a sane world–not a sane media world, anyway.
Friday, March 27, 2020
The House of Representatives on Friday overwhelmingly approved a more than $2 trillion package to combat the coronavirus pandemic and send economic relief to workers and businesses squeezed by restrictions meant to stop the outbreak’s spread.
The legislation, approved by voice vote despite 11th-hour drama arising from a GOP lawmaker’s objections, amounts to the costliest stimulus plan in U.S. history. It includes checks for most Americans, boosted unemployment aid, help for small business as well as a massive loan fund for corporations – at a time when unemployment is surging at a record pace, a consequence of businesses closing in compliance with social distancing guidelines.
The bill, already approved by the Senate, now goes to President Trump's desk.
“This bill is not only a rescue package, it is a commitment… that your government and the people whom you’ve elected to serve will do everything we can to limit the harm and hardship you face, both now and the foreseeable future,” House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said prior to the vote.
The approval, while widely anticipated, followed a stretch of uncertainty over whether one congressman -- concerned about the stunning cost of the package -- might be able to stall the vote.
Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., had furiously objected to a simple voice vote that would have required only a minimal number of lawmakers to travel. Massie, as part of his push, wanted to ensure there is a quorum, which would require half of the members to show up on Capitol Hill.
So as President Trump and others accused him of grandstanding, hundreds of lawmakers were summoned to Washington D.C. Thursday night and Friday morning from coronavirus-ravaged communities in New York, California and elsewhere. This, despite strict guidelines from the Capitol physician advising lawmakers not to congregate at the Capitol and stay in their offices until needed to avoid the spread of the virus that has already infected several lawmakers.
While Massie was able to ensure many lawmakers showed up for the vote, he was not, in the end, able to force a roll-call.
The House, after several hours of debate, ultimately passed the measure by voice vote, and it was allowed to stand.
There were loud cries for ‘ayes’ and few rumblings of ‘nos’ on the House floor.
“The ayes have it,” declared the presiding officer Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Md.
But Massie stood up and objected. “I came here to make sure our republic doesn’t die by unanimous consent in an empty chamber and I request a recorded vote,” Massie said.
Brown ruled that an insufficient number of lawmakers stood in support of a roll call vote. But Massie pressed on.
“I object on the basis that a quorum is not present,” Massie said, instructing a count of lawmakers.
“A quorum is present and the motion is adopted,” Brown ruled, to applause.
Minutes before the vote, Speaker Nancy Pelosi also took to the floor to summon lawmakers in an effort to gather quorum and shut down the Massie effort.
Pelosi touted the aid forthcoming for hospitals, Americans and small businesses, while acknowledging that more needs to be done for the frontline healthcare workers and paying homage to a New York nurse who died while serving at a hospital that didn’t have enough gowns.
“We know that this cannot be our final bill,” Pelosi said.
In a series of speeches prior to the historic rescue bill, lawmakers pressed for unity.
“We're going to help American through this," McCarthy said. "We're going to do this together and in the end, we are going to be healthier, stronger and more united than ever before because as Americans, that's who we are.”
Upon catching wind of the plan to stop a roll-call vote, though, Massie howled on Twitter over the parliamentary machinations.
"It’s pretty clear now, with enough members here to pass the bill, that Pelosi and McCarthy are still working together to block a recorded vote just to insulate members of Congress from ACCOUNTABILITY. Biggest spending bill in the history of mankind, and no recorded vote? #SWAMP," he tweeted.
Emotions ran hot on the House floor all morning Friday before the vote on the $2 trillion stimulus bill.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., started her impassioned floor speech by noting 13 people died in one day at Queen’s Elmhurst Hospital and medical professionals still don’t have enough ventilators and personal protection equipment.
She ripped the Senate for fighting for corporate bailouts that will contribute to the income inequality gap in order for families to get “crumbs.”
“What did the Senate majority fight for? One of the largest corporate bailouts with as few strings as possible in American history. Shameful!” Ocasio-Cortez said.
“The greed of that fight is wrong for crumbs for our families.
“There should be shame about what was fought for in this bill, and the choices that we have to make.”
On the other side of the aisle, Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., said he’s “distressed by the Hobson’s choice” put forth before lawmakers Friday saying lawmakers shouldn’t have to accept unrelated “bailouts” to send relief.
“As we discussed this and also discuss a fourth [package], no more Hobson's choice. No more billion-dollar bailouts for things that are unrelated. No more policies that are long-standing for a short-standing issue that needs are critical attention,” Perry said. “…Whatever we do, let's do no harm.”
In a bizarre and seemingly unnecessary point of drama, Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Mich., refused to stop speaking when her time ran out on the House floor, even though Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., was willing to let her finish if she had just paused to let him officially grant her more time.
Instead, Stevens continued yelling and held up her hands – clad with pink surgical gloves—in an apparent homage to front line healthcare workers fighting the coronavirus pandemic even though her mic was cut.
As the presiding speaker was pounding the gavel and ruling Stevens “out of order,” Stevens screamed, “do not be afraid!”
Republicans, who are trying hard to flip the freshman rep’s seat in November, immediately pounced on the outburst as a “meltdown.”
Michigan Democrat Rep. Haley Stevens just had ANOTHER meltdown, this time on the floor of the House of Representatives.
The bill finances a response with a price tag that equals half the size of the entire $4 trillion-plus annual federal budget. The $2.2 trillion estimate is the White House's best guess of the spending it contains.
The legislation would provide one-time direct payments to Americans of $1,200 per adult making up to $75,000 a year and $2,400 to a married couple making up to $150,000, with $500 payments per child.
Unemployment insurance would be made far more generous, with $600 per week tacked onto regular state jobless payments through the end of July. States and local governments would receive $150 billion in supplemental funding to help them provide basic and emergency services during the crisis.
The legislation also establishes a $454 billion program for guaranteed, subsidized loans to larger industries in hopes of leveraging up to $4.5 trillion in lending to distressed businesses, states, and municipalities. All would be up to the Treasury Department's discretion, though businesses controlled by Trump or immediate family members and by members of Congress would be ineligible.
There was also $150 billion devoted to the health care system, including $100 billion for grants to hospitals and other health care providers buckling under the strain of COVID-19 caseloads.
Frustrations were already hot as lawmakers had to return to Washington in a panic after Massie, R-Ky., threatened to upend plans for a simple voice vote and force a recorded vote.
Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., alluded to the Massie controversy on the House floor.
“So to you who oppose this bill. Please, please stand down. We can't wait another day to help. Don't add to this disruption, by in fact, being a disruptor. Be a leader," Upton said.
Lawmakers spoke passionately about how COVID-19 is hurting the health of their communities and how the widespread shutdown of the economy is crippling families and businesses. Yet many openly grappled with voting in favor of bill they believe will be helpful, while it’s chock-full of other provisions that they disagree with.
“This is ripping my heart out because there’s things in this bill that just don’t belong there,” said Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., “I consider them”, then the GOP rep stopped himself. “Well, I can’t say that word in front of a microphone.”
Schweikert, however, argued Congress must “do the right thing” by passing the legislation.
However, Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., said he'll oppose the legislation over cost and debt concerns.
"As President Trump said, we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself," Buck said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
By Matt Margolis | P J Media
Despite claims by the mainstream media and the Democratic Party that the United States was "ill-prepared" to handle the coronavirus pandemic and that actions by Trump administration made us vulnerable, the United States was actually ranked the best-prepared country in the world to handle a pandemic in a study by Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security (JHCHS) published in late 2019.
The United States' Global Health Security Index score was 83.5/100, the highest overall score of 195 countries. The United Kingdom came in second with a score of 77.9. Italy, which has experienced significant difficulties in handling the outbreak in their country, scored 56.2. Iran, which is also struggling to handle the pandemic, scored 37.7.
The Trump administration has been the target of a significant amount of misinformation being disseminated by the Democrats and the mainstream media designed to undermine confidence in the administration's handling of the pandemic, including false reports that Trump "dissolved" the White House pandemic response office and that Trump cut funding to the CDC and NIH.
Despite these false reports, Trump's approval ratings have improved in the past few weeks, and his response to the pandemic has the approval of 60 percent of Americans, according to the latest Gallup poll.
The Global Health Security index "was developed with guidance from an international panel of experts from 13 countries, with research by the Economist Intelligence Unit. More than 100 researchers spent a year collecting and validating publicly available data," the Washington Post reported last year.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama's Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis
The Top 10 Lies About President Trump’s Response to the Coronavirus
BY MATT MARGOLIS | P J MEDIA
President Donald Trump speaks during a press briefing with the coronavirus task force, at the White House, Tuesday, March 17, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
It’s troubling to see how quickly disinformation about the government’s response to the coronavirus has spread. Democrats and the mainstream media have willingly spread false information in the hopes of damaging Trump politically before the election in November. Many of these lies were quickly debunked, but that hasn’t stopped the false information from being repeated over and over.
The left hopes these lies will continue to spread, but so far it doesn’t seem to be working since Trump’s approval numbers for his handling of the pandemic have gone up.
But that doesn’t mean the left will give up their disinformation campaign. To help set the record straight, I’ve compiled the top ten lies that have been spread about Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Thursday, March 26, 2020
By Walter E. Williams | Townhall.com
A recent report by Chris Stewart has shed new light on some of the educational problems faced by black youth. The report is titled "The Secret Shame: How America's Most Progressive Cities Betray Their Commitment to Educational Opportunity for All." Stewart is a self-described liberal and CEO of Brightbeam, a nonprofit network of education activists who want to hold progressive political leaders accountable.
The report asks, "So how do we explain outstandingly poor educational results for minority children in San Francisco -- which also happens to be one of the wealthiest cities in the country?" "The Secret Shame" reports that progressive cities, on average, have black/white achievement gaps in math and reading that are 15 and 13 percentage points higher than in conservative cities. For example, in San Francisco, 70% of white students are proficient in math; for black students it's 12% -- a 58-point gap. In Washington, D.C., 83% of white students scored proficient in reading compared to 23% of black students -- a 60-point gap.
Yet, three of the 12 conservative cities researchers looked at -- Virginia Beach, Anaheim and Fort Worth -- have effectively closed or even erased the gap in at least one of the academic categories studied, achieving a gap of zero or one. "The politically conservative Oklahoma City has even turned the tables on our typical thinking about race-based gaps," says Stewart. Black students in Oklahoma City even have higher high school graduation rates than white students.
Had the "Secret Shame" study analyzed other cities, it would have found that educational outcomes for most black youngsters is a national disgrace. As of 2016, in Philadelphia, only 19% of eighth-graders scored proficient in math, and 16% were proficient in reading. In Detroit, only 4% of its eighth-graders scored proficient in math, and 7% were proficient in reading. In 2016, in 13 of Baltimore's 39 high schools, not a single student scored proficient on the state's math exam. In six other high schools, only 1% tested proficient in math. Only 15% of Baltimore students passed the state's English test.
National Assessment of Education Progress tests (also called the Nation's Report Card) give further testament to the tragedy. In Philadelphia, 47% of its students scored below basic in math and 42% scored below basic in reading. In Baltimore, it was, respectively, 59% and 49%. In Detroit, 73% scored below basic in math and 56% in reading. Below basic means that a student is unable to demonstrate even partial mastery of knowledge and skills fundamental for proficient work at his or her grade level.
Then there's gross fraud practiced by the education establishment. High school graduation rates for black students range from a high of 84% in Texas to a low of 57% in Nevada and Oregon. However, according to ACT data, the percentage of black students judged to be college-ready in English, math, reading and science ranges from 17% in Massachusetts to only 3% in Mississippi. One concrete example of this fraud is the fact that Baltimore's Frederick Douglass High School has a graduation rate of 70% while not a single student tested proficient in mathematics and only 3% did so in reading.
"The Secret Shame" report didn't say why the black/white achievement gap was smaller in conservative cities compared to their progressive counterparts. But permit me to make a suggestion. An Education Week article reported that in the 2015-16 school year, "5.8% of the nation's 3.8 million teachers were physically attacked by a student." The Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics and the Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics show that in the 2011-12 academic year, there were a record 209,800 primary- and secondary-school teachers who reported being physically attacked by a student. A National Center for Education Statistics study found that 18% of the nation's schools accounted for 75% of the reported incidents of violence, and 6.6% accounted for half of all reported incidents.
These are schools with predominantly black student populations. My guess is that part of the reasons black academic achievement is greater in conservative cities is that schools are less tolerant of crime whereas schools in progressive cities make excuses.
Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. walks to the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
The White House and Senate leaders reached a breakthrough deal shortly after midnight Wednesday on a massive and historic $2 trillion coronavirus relief package for workers and businesses, capping days of heated negotiations that had nearly been derailed by last-minute demands from House Democrats.
“Ladies and gentleman, we are done," White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland announced as he left the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., near midnight. "We have a deal."
Ueland told reporters that "much of the work on bill text has been completed, and I’m hopeful over the next few hours we’ll finish what's left and we will circulate it early in the morning.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the bill amounts to “unemployment compensation on steroids," and that every American who is laid off will have their missed salary remunerated. That provision will enable companies to stay afloat and immediately bring back those employees when things are safe, Schumer said.
The unprecedented economic rescue package would give direct payments to most Americans, expand unemployment benefits and provide a $367 billion program for small businesses to keep making payroll while workers are forced to stay home.
One of the last issues to close concerned $500 billion for guaranteed, subsidized loans to larger industries, including a fight over how generous to be with the airlines, given that Democrats wanted them to abide by new carbon emissions restrictions. Hospitals would get significant help as well.
In a letter to his colleagues, Schumer remarked, “Democrats are ready to give our unanimous consent to speed up the consideration of the bill and get the job done.“ That means that if there are no objections from Republicans, the Senate could clear the bill without a formal roll call vote. Parliamentarily, that is the fastest way to move something on the floor.
A senior GOP source told Fox News contributor and Townhall.com editor Guy Benson that the move was a face-saving exercise by Schumer, and that he was trying to "take credit" for a GOP bill that he filibustered for "small ball" alterations. Democrats, the source said, couldn't drag the situation out much longer; economic conditions have worsened dramatically, and President Trump's approval rating has risen.
McConnell said the Senate will meet at 12 p.m. ET on Wednesday, but did not set a time for a vote. By rule, the procedural vote to begin debate on the coronavirus package would happen at 1 p.m. ET, unless the Senate scraps that vote.
“Democrats are finally taking ‘yes’ for an answer," McConnell said in his remarks on the Senate floor early Wednesday morning. "Help is on the way.”
“After days of intense discussions, the Senate has reached a bipartisan agreement on a historic relief package for this pandemic,” he continued. “It will rush new resources onto the front lines of our nation's health care fight. And it will inject trillions of dollars of cash into the economy as fast as possible to help Americans workers, families, small businesses and industries make it through this disruption and emerge on the other side ready to soar."
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who was smiling after McConnell left the floor, told reporters: "This is a very important bipartisan piece of legislation that is going to be very important to help American workers, American business and people across America. So, we couldn't be more pleased. I've spoken to the president, many times today, and he's very pleased with this legislation, and the impact that this is going to have."
Concerning the House, Mnuchin remarked, "I can't speak for the Speaker. I hope she takes it up and she passes as-is. We need, we need this to get working for the American people. And, again, there are a lot of compromises. It's terrific bill, and it was a great accomplishment on everyone."
In a statement Wednesday morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that "House Democrats will now review the final provisions and legislative text of the agreement to determine a course of action.”
“This bipartisan legislation takes us a long way down the road in meeting the needs of the American people," she wrote. "While the compromise does not go as far as our Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act, thanks to the unity and insistence of Senate and House Democrats, the bill has moved a great deal closer to America’s workers."
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, left, accompanied by White House Legislative Affairs Director Eric Ueland and acting White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, speaks with reporters as he walks to the offices of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
However, Mnuchin spoke, Michigan independent Rep. Justin Amash, who recently left the Republican Party, signaled that he might essentially delay consideration of the bill in the House. The lower chamber may seek to pass the legislation via unanimous consent because many members are not in Washington -- but a single member can ruin that plan.
The House used unanimous consent during the 1918 flu pandemic as well.
"This bipartisan deal is a raw deal for the people," Amash tweeted. "It does far too little for those who need the most help, while providing hundreds of billions in corporate welfare, massively growing government, inhibiting economic adaptation, and widening the gap between the rich and the poor."
The deal came hours after President Trump's top economic adviser said an unprecedented $6 trillion stimulus plan was imminent, including $4 trillion in liquidity from the Federal Reserve and $2 trillion in new money from Congress.
Tensions then abruptly ratcheted back up again on Capitol Hill Tuesday night -- with Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Steve Daines taking to the Senate floor and calling for an end to negotiations because, as Graham put it, Democrats were "nickel-and-diming at a time when people are dying -- literally dying."
Graham and Daines' late-night push for an immediate vote on a stimulus bill came after tensions seemingly had cooled in Congress during the day, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average to its highest point gain in its history as leaders from both parties signaled that an agreement could be within reach.
Shares advanced in Asia on Wednesday after the Dow Jones Industrial Average surged to its best day since 1933 as Congress and the White House neared a deal. Japan's Nikkei 225 index jumped 5.3 percent, while Hong Kong added 3 percent and Sydney climbed 3.6 percent. Markets across Asia were all up more than 2 percent.
"Ladies and gentleman, we are done. We have a deal."
— White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland
But, the Republicans said late Tuesday, Democrats were still seeking new payouts that were delaying a vote on a final bill.
"In case you're watching," Graham said in reference to the president, his voice rising, "tell [Treasury Secretary] Steven Mnuchin to come back to the White House and end negotiations. I think I understand the give-and-take of life and politics, but I've been called by two good friends on the Democratic side in the last five or six hours wanting more money. End the negotiations."
He added: "This bill is $2 trillion. There's a ton of money in this bill for people who need it, but what we're doing now is, every special-interest group in town is trying to get a little bit more."
“Listen, we were told we are at the one-yard line last night to get this done," Daines, who led the colloquy with Graham, said from the Senate floor. "All I’ve got to say is, the Senate may think it’s at the one-yard line right now, but Montanans are getting sacked. In fact, our unemployment claims in Montana since march 17th, we just looked it up 15 minutes ago, 14,350 Montanans have filed for unemployment in the last week.”
Monday had been marked with furious debate on the Senate floor, as Republicans accused House Democrats of proposing an alternative stimulus bill that was full of unnecessary progressive wishlist items. Senate Democrats in the meantime repeatedly blocked the Republican stimulus bill, which would require 60 votes to survive.
The bill offered by Pelosi had included measures to restrict airlines' carbon emissions, protect illegal immigrants, provide for same-day voter registration, pay off billions in student loan debt, encourage federal agencies to employ "minority banks," bail out the U.S. Postal Service and even fund the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
"There is a whole concern in our country that if we're giving tens of billions of dollars to the airlines, that we could at least have a shared value about what happens to the environment," Pelosi said Tuesday.
But, support for Democrats' climate-change push in the stimulus bill withered Tuesday. The former chief of staff to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Saikat Chakrabarti, wrote on Twitter in response to Pelosi's comments: "I helped write the #GreenNewDeal and I think this is ridiculous. The tiny little emissions standard increase doesn’t even do anything meaningful to stave off climate change and gives the @GOP leverage to get rid of real help for working people. Solve the problem at hand. Hospitals would get significant help as well."
Republicans, including the president, have called the measures irrelevant "nonsense" and total nonstarters. After Democrats signaled they might be willing to negotiate away some of their proposals, though, the Dow surged and lawmakers appeared optimistic.
Democrats have argued the GOP package would do too much for large corporations and not enough for workers, and inaccurately suggested that the treasury secretary would have unilateral control over a massive "slush fund."
"This is ridiculous," Graham continued Tuesday night. "Steven Mnuchin has done a good job. I appreciate his efforts to negotiate a bill that will help America. Senator [Mitch] McConnell says we're on the two-yard line. I believe the problem is that there are 20 people playing defense, and we need to take some people off the field. What bothers me is that at that late hour, I'm still getting calls from people wanting more money."
President Trump with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during a briefing at the White House on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Graham and Daines' frustration was matched by many of his colleagues. Louisiana GOP Sen. John Kennedy told Fox News' Sean Hannity late Tuesday that while the coronavirus "can kill you," so can "hunger."
Shortly before Graham and Daines spoke, Trump declared at a coronovirus task force briefing that the country was nearing "the end of our historic battle" with "the invisible enemy" of coronavirus. Trump's approval numbers hit their highest point ever this week, with 60 percent of Americans approving of his coronavirus response efforts.
The president also sounded an unexpectedly magnanimous note: "I also want to thank Congress, because whether or not we're happy that they haven't quite gotten there yet, they have been working long hours. I'm talking Republicans and Democrats, all of them, the House, the Senate. I want to thank Congress because they are really trying to get there, and I think they will."
Then, Director of the U.S. National Economic Council Larry Kudlow specifically said the new coronavirus bill working its way through congressional gridlock would total $6 trillion: $4 trillion in liquidity from the Federal Reserve and $2 trillion in new money. Typical annual appropriations from Congress in a given fiscal year are around $1.2-4 trillion, with total expenditures roughly $4.3 trillion.
Gallup: Trump job approval soars 12 net points to 49-45, the best net approval of his entire presidency.
His approval by party:
Republicans 92 (+1)
Independents 43 (+8)
Democrats 13 (+6)
60% of Americans approve of his handling of coronavirus against 38% who do not.
His approval by party:
Republicans 92 (+1)
Independents 43 (+8)
Democrats 13 (+6)
60% of Americans approve of his handling of coronavirus against 38% who do not.
“This package will be the single largest Main Street assistance program in the history of the United States,” Kudlow said, adding that negotiations would continue into the evening but that a vote was imminent.
Meanwhile, there was some good news inside the White House grounds. As the briefing concluded, White House press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, who has been quarantined since coming in contact with Brazilian officials almost two weeks ago and working from home, revealed she has received negative COVID-19 test results and will be back to work Wednesday.
Grisham will return as the Trump administration increasingly has sought to project optimism. The president, who tweeted Sunday that "WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF," declared at the Fox News virtual town hall that he "would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter."
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, center, on his way to the offices of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Pressed by Fox News' John Roberts on the timeline, Trump said at the briefing: "We'll be looking at a lot of things -- we'll also be looking at very large portions of our country, but I'll be guided very much by Dr. [Anthony] Fauci, and by Deborah [Birx]."
Fauci, the longtime head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, whose absence from recent coronavirus briefings triggered a wave of speculation in the media, said the timeline was still "flexible."
Democrats have reacted furiously to Trump's new timeline for relaxing economic restrictions, with Hillary Clinton suggesting people would "needlessly die," and Joe Biden accusing Trump of spreading "misinformation."
"This a--hole and his rich friends are too stupid to get that we can only get through this together," former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau wrote. "Everyone is at risk from the virus. Everyone suffers when there aren’t enough hospital beds. Everyone struggles when millions are too sick to work."
Fellow Obama communications alum Tommy Vietor, meanwhile, deleted a tweet lamenting that he was reduced to drinking red wine in the shower during the economic shutdown.
Fox News' Chad Pergram, Caroline McKee, and John Roberts, as well as The Associated Press, contributed to this report.
Gregg Re is a lawyer and editor based in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.