Writing

Piece 65 – Congresses Stunning Apathy By. Raimondo Graziano

Congresses Stunning Apathy

By. Raimondo Graziano

     As of the writing of this piece, Congress has allowed nearly a week to elapse since federal unemployment assistance ended. This has thrown many millions of Americans into a precarious situation in which they are faced with the prospect of economic uncertainty – meaning an inability to pay for bills, rent, and essential expenses for living and caring for ones family. The apathy of Congress directed at the American people is appalling. Putting aside for a moment that the Senate decided toward the end of May to take a nearly two month recess, and is again preparing to do so – both the House & the Senate had more than enough time to come together to work on the details of a short-term measure to address two things, both of which the White House backed – extending unemployment benefits and direct stimulus payments to the American people. While many Republicans were willing to back this, Democrats pushed back arguing for the need for a complete recovery package. The political games being played out in Washington must stop as they are coming at the expense of the American people.

     The assertion that two bills whose difference in funding measures nearly two trillion dollars, could be negotiated within a weeks time upon the return of the Senate is not wishful thinking – it is pure political opportunism. While the Democrats attempt to make the Republicans seem like uncaring and detached elites, the Democrats act no better by employing moral and legislative purism through their refusal to even consider a short term bill aimed at only helping the American people. If the Democrats wanted to help the American people, they would take the opportunity to hammer out a deal which addresses the most immediate and impactful needs of the public. The people of this country need direct aid now. While the Republican bill falls far short of what is needed regarding the broad strokes of a proper recovery, a proper negotiation can be had once the needs of the American people are directly addressed – that means money in the pockets of the people now.

     It truly baffles the mind that such a moment has been allowed to occur by our elected officials. There was ample time, the House Democrats passed a bill in May regarding recovery. That showed the due diligence of the House’s response to the crisis. That Republicans took nearly two months to propose a counter is a stunning display of governmental negligence. Two months of potential negotiations between the House, the Senate and the White House were lost because of the Senates choice to take a ridiculous and unprecedented recess during the height of a crisis we have experienced in nearly ninety years. Two months, tens of thousands of lives lost, and millions facing eviction and an inability to provide for their family, and thus slowing the economic recovery in the long term all because the Senate took a recess and refused to work with House Democrats on a counter-proposal which could have landed on the Presidents desk.

     And here we are. At this unprecedented moment in American history. There will be hell to pay for the inaction of the Senate Republicans in the afterward of the passing of the HEROES Act. Just as there will be hell to pay for the grandstanding of the House Democrats in their refusal to consider a short-term recovery bill. The cavern between the House & Senate proposals is wide and deep, and politically fueled – what’s not is the needs of the American people; cash in hand to survive in the immediate. Make no mistake – there will be hell to pay for the apathy displayed by 116th Congress, perhaps one of the most consequential, morally bankrupt and politically motivated Congresses in the history of our country. The road forward is clear – enough negotiations. Put forward the plan for extended unemployment benefits, direct stimulus payments and cancel all further recesses of Congress until a comprehensive reform and recovery package is brokered by the House and Senate.

Old Howard Union

78 – China’s Economic Recovery Admist Global Tumult: Suspect?

The Peoples Republic of China has rebounded from the crisis that has swept the world with a speed and breadth unmatched. While the world descends into a financial calamity not seen since the depression and comparable in scale in recent memory to the crash of 2008, the Peoples Republic of China for a 2nd time has managed to avoid financial disaster. With the number of unanswered questions surrounding the orgins of this calamity, it begs the question – what does China have to gain from a wholly lopsided recovery.

Show Notes

  1. China’s Claims to the South China Sea Are Unlawful. Now What? https://nyti.ms/2EmPmBf
  2. China Uses Coronavirus as Cover to Detain Dissidents, Activists Say https://nyti.ms/2XaK3LS
  3. Defying U.N. Ban, Chinese Ships Pay North Korea to Fish in Its Waters https://nyti.ms/3fQ7QIo
  4. The Chinese Decade https://nyti.ms/3gSkI0q
  5. China’s Economy Appears Back on Track, but Challenges Remain https://www.wsj.com/articles/chinas-economy-appears-back-on-track-but-challenges-remain-11594901270
  6. China Is First Major Economy to Return to Growth Since Coronavirus Pandemic https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-is-first-major-economy-to-return-to-growth-since-coronavirus-pandemic-11594865317
  7. Border Clash Shows Risk of China’s Territorial Push https://www.wsj.com/articles/india-china-border-clash-shows-rising-risk-in-beijings-territorial-push-11592585381
Old Howard Union

73 – An Analysis of The HEALS Act; Introduced by Senate Republicans

There is a war going on in Congress right now. Some may say too little, too late. The war is the push and pull between Senate Republicans & House Democrats on the issue of continued aid to the American people, and the states with the ongoing crisis that is COVID-19. The American public is reeling from the ramifications of the crisis and all that has come from it – mass unemployment, a grinding halt to economic productivity, and the revealing of structural issues that were here long before the crisis, which the crisis has only shone a light on. Today, we are going to discuss the HEALS Act, the Senate Republicans response to the growing need to answer the moment that is now. 

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  1. Summary of the HEALS  Act – https://www.forbes.com/sites/ryanderousseau/2020/07/27/republicans-release-stimulus-bill-proposal-titled-heals-act-1200-checks-cuts-to-unemployment-payments/#7ab7caa05fa4https://www.cnet.com/personal-finance/heals-act-senate-stimulus-bill-offers-1200-check-and-other-benefits-how-they-could-help-monday/
  2. Analysis of the HEALS Act –https://www.cnet.com/personal-finance/heals-act-senate-stimulus-bill-offers-1200-check-and-other-benefits-how-they-could-help-monday/
  3. Virus Stimulus: How the GOP and Democratic Plans Compare https://www.wsj.com/articles/coronavirus-relief-how-the-republican-and-democratic-plans-compare-11595934002
  4. Summary of provisions within the HEALS Act – https://www.acenet.edu/Documents/HEALS-Act-Short-Summary.pdf

 

Old Howard Union

64 – The Economic Turmoil Today, and a Word on the Post Office.

The current crisis that has the United States and many nations around the world in a state of standstill has crippled the economic productivity of many communities. More importantly, the workers of the country are hurting in what may be one of the worst economic downturns in history. During this all, an old political rivalry between the President and the… Post Office?

Show Notes

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1. House Democrats Close In on New Stimulus Proposal https://www.wsj.com/articles/house-democrats-close-in-on-new-stimulus-proposal-11588851736
• The bill being drafted by Democratic leadership is expected to include more than $750 billion in aid to state and local governments, as well as another round of direct support to Americans, according to interviews with lawmakers and aides. Leaders also say they are interested in extending enhanced unemployment benefits, but haven’t provided specifics.
• Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) has taken a wait-and-see approach on new funding, after Congress passed more than $3 trillion in aid in a matter of months, responding to deep layoffs across the economy. He has called liability protections for businesses his central demand in new talks. Meanwhile, Mr. Trump is seeking payroll-tax cuts and other tax relief, an idea panned by members of both parties in Congress.
• She is calling for guaranteeing workers’ wages for three months, up to an annual salary of $100,000 a worker.
2. Claims Data Point to Record Wave of Unemployment https://www.wsj.com/articles/unemployment-benefits-weekly-jobless-claims-coronavirus-05-07-2020-11588813872
• WASHINGTON—U.S. workers have filed nearly 33.5 million applications for unemployment benefits in the seven weeks since closures were put in place to combat the coronavirus pandemic, showing a wave of layoffs that likely pushed April job losses to record levels.
• Recent layoffs are expected to cause nonfarm payrolls to fall by 21.5 million and the unemployment rate to climb to 16% in the April jobs report
• Thursday’s unemployment benefits data raise the possibility that the worst of virus-related layoffs are in the past, and that job losses will ease in May. Benefits applications filed for the week ended May 2 were less than half the peak of 6.9 million touched in late March. Before March, fewer than 700,000 claims were filed weekly in records back to 1967.
3. The Daily Shot: Nearly a Decade Worth of Job Gains Wiped Out in a Month https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-daily-shot-nearly-a-decade-worth-of-job-gains-wiped-out-in-a-month-01588844292
• According to the ADP private payrolls report, nearly a decade worth of job gains have been wiped out in a month.
• As we saw last week (#6 here), the US fiscal response to the pandemic has been much larger and faster than it was after the financial crisis.
4. North Carolina Businessman Tapped to Head the Postal Service https://www.wsj.com/articles/north-carolina-businessman-tapped-to-head-the-postal-service-11588818025
• The U.S. Postal Service’s governance board tapped a North Carolina businessman and Republican donor to be the next postmaster general, as President Trump seeks to push the organization to raise rates for package delivery.
• The coronavirus outbreak has resulted in plummeting mail volumes and the Postal Service recently predicted that the pandemic will add $22 billion to the agency’s continuing operating losses over the next 18 months.
• stimulus package authorizes the Postal Service to borrow up to $10 billion from the Treasury Department to fund operating expenses, and the group is currently in discussions with the administration over the terms of the loan.
• Mr. Trump has said he doesn’t want to authorize any lending to the Postal Service unless it charges more to deliver packages. The president has long complained that the Postal Service isn’t charging Amazon.com Inc. enough to deliver the products it sells to people all over the country. He has proposed that the Postal Service quadruple its delivery charges.
5. Unemployment Numbers: 3.2 Million New Claims as Layoffs Persist During Pandemic https://nyti.ms/3dmPk8L
• Economists expect the monthly jobs report from the Labor Department, due Friday, to show that the unemployment rate in April was 15 percent or higher — a Depression-era level. The figure will almost certainly understate the damage.
• Many businesses, particularly small ones, may not survive, while others are likely to operate with reduced hours and staff. The job search site Indeed reports that postings are down nearly 40 percent from a year ago.
• Most Americans remain uneasy about reopening, with 67 percent saying they would be uncomfortable going into a store and 78 percent saying they would be uncomfortable eating at a restaurant, according to a survey that The Washington Post and the University of Maryland released Tuesday.
• So far, only 43 percent of the more than one million Floridians filing verified claims have begun to receive benefits.
6. Trump Says His Administration Is Talking to Republican Senators About Work Visa Issue https://nyti.ms/2yA9TzG
• Four Republican senators sent a letter earlier in the day urging Trump to suspend all new guest worker visas for 60 days and certain categories of new guest work visas for at least a year, until unemployment returns to normal levels.
1. US Consumer Borrowing Fell for First Time Since 2011 https://nyti.ms/2SMU1AK
• U.S. consumer borrowing fell in March for the first time in more than eight years, with the category covering credit cards dropping by the largest amount in over three decades, the Federal Reserve reported Thursday.
• Consumer borrowing declined by $12 billion in March, the first time overall debt has fallen since August 2011, according to the central bank. The decline in percentage terms was 3.4%.
• Borrowing in the category that covers credit cards dropped by $28.2 billion or 30.9%, the biggest percentage decline since January 1989.Borrowing in the category that covers auto loans and student loans was up $16.1 billion or 6.2%.
7. US G.D.P. Declined in First Quarter, With Worse Economy to Come https://nyti.ms/3aPRXhM
• U.S. gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services output, fell at a 4.8 percent annual rate in the first quarter of the year, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That is the first decline since 2014, and the worst quarterly contraction since 2008, when the country was in a deep recession.
• Widespread layoffs and business closings didn’t hit until late March in most of the country. Economists expect figures from the current quarter, which will capture the shutdown’s impact more fully, to show that G.D.P. contracted at an annual rate of 30 percent or more, a scale not seen since the Great Depression.
• The Congressional Budget Office last week released projections indicating that the economy will begin growing again in the second half of the year but that the G.D.P. won’t return to its pre-pandemic level until 2022 at the earliest.
• With each month of unpaid bills and rock-bottom sales, more businesses will go bankrupt or decide not to reopen. More workers will drift away from their employers, turning temporary layoffs into permanent job losses. More loans will lapse into delinquency, endangering banks and the broader financial system.
• Those consequences have led President Trump and other elected officials — particularly Republican governors in states with relatively few coronavirus cases — to push to reopen the economy as quickly as possible. Several states have started to do so, and others, including large ones like Texas and Florida, will begin to at the end of the month.
• But economists and epidemiologists say moving too quickly threatens both public health and economic growth.

Transcript

Old Howard Union

63 – Why You Have to Vote For Joe Biden

Joe Biden is the presumptive nominee for the Democratic Party Nomination for President. There is much more at stake than one man in the Oval Office. It is not about the man, but about the office itself and what that means for numerous executive agencies and a Presidency stronger than at any other point in history. Put it simply – you have to vote for Joe Biden.

 

Show Notes

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1. David Axelrod and David Plouffe: What Biden Needs to Do to Beat Trump https://nyti.ms/2SvqQlS
• The former vice president is a man of vast experience in government. He ran the Recovery Act for President Obama in 2009 during the economic crash and was Mr. Obama’s active partner during other crises like the H1N1 pandemic that same year and the 2014 Ebola outbreak.
• Focus on content.Expand your digital footprint.Prepare for an onslaught.Deploy surrogates.Plan for a online convention. Organize, organize, organize. (But online.)Act like an insurgent, not an incumbent.
2. Biden’s Edge Evaporates as Trump Seen as Better Suited for Economy, Coronavirus Response, Poll Shows https://nyti.ms/3fnSlHM
• Democratic presidential nominee struggles for visibility with voters during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday. The opinion poll conducted on Monday and Tuesday found that 43% of registered voters said they would support Biden in the Nov. 3 presidential election, while 41% said they would back Trump. That makes the contest essentially a toss-up, as the results are within the poll’s credibility interval.
• The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online, in English, throughout the United States. It gathered responses from 1,215 American adults, including 1,015 who identified as registered voters. It had a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
• 42% of Americans said they approved of Trump’s performance in office, and 53% said they disapproved.
• 37% percent said Trump was better leading the country’s coronavirus response, while 35% preferred Biden.
• 45% of Americans said Trump was better suited to create jobs, while 32% said Biden was the better candidate for that.
3. Biden Announces New Policy Efforts Aimed at Black Voters https://nyti.ms/3ds0B7Z
• As part of the wide-ranging plans, the former vice president pledged to open a new Public Credit Reporting Agency that could compete with Equifax Inc, Experian Plc and TransUnion and, according to the campaign, minimize racial disparities in lending.
• The former vice president also promised a new tax credit for first-time homeowners, $900 million over eight years to finance efforts to save 12,000 lives in high-crime cities as well as to expand the Small Business Administration’s efforts to lend money to African American-owned enterprises. Advocates say that few of those businesses have been able to tap federal relief programs during the coronavirus outbreak due to discriminatory lending practices.
• The policies announced on Monday include an expansion of the Community Reinvestment Act, a fair-lending law governing banks, to include mortgage and insurance companies.
4. Why Biden’s Choice of Running Mate Has Momentous Implications https://nyti.ms/3fbr6jH
• And Mr. Biden himself has increasingly pushed into the political foreground the overwhelming reason that his choice may be the most consequential in decades: the expectation, downplayed but not exactly denied by the Biden campaign, that the 77-year-old would be a one-term president. If that turns out to be the case, his running mate now could well be leading the Democratic ticket in four years.
• Stan Greenberg, a longtime Democratic pollster, has laid out a case to Mr. Biden’s inner circle that he should choose Ms. Warren to consolidate support across the Democratic coalition and drive up turnout among younger people and liberals, according to people familiar with Mr. Greenberg’s overtures. A polling presentation Mr. Greenberg shared with the Biden campaign cautioned that as of early April, supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders were “dangerously not” united behind Mr. Biden’s candidacy. Mr. Greenberg suggested that a strongly progressive message on the economy would resonate with those people.
5. Biden Makes Mark on Democratic Party With New Fundraising Deal https://www.wsj.com/articles/joe-biden-makes-mark-on-democratic-party-with-new-fundraising-deal-11587767071
• The former vice president on Friday formalized a joint fundraising agreement with the Democratic National Committee, allowing him to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars from individual donors. He also installed Mary Beth Cahill, a former campaign manager for John Kerry in 2004, to lead the DNC through the fall campaign.
• The steps by Mr. Biden aim to build a united national party after the primaries and compete financially against Mr. Trump’s re-election team. The president’s campaign, the Republican National Committee and affiliated fundraising committees raised $63 million in March and had $244 million in the bank at the beginning of April.
• Mr. Biden and the DNC brought in a combined $79.3 million in March but started this month with $57 million in cash on hand, after accounting for the DNC’s $5 million in debts.
• The joint fundraising committee, which will be called the Biden Victory Fund, will allow an individual to make a maximum donation of $360,600. Of that amount, $5,600, the maximum any individual can give to the campaign for the primary and general election, will be earmarked for the Biden campaign. The rest goes to the national party. The joint committee allows donors to also support the party’s operations and the summer convention and to help cover legal expenses.
6. Biden Ramps Up Outreach to Liberals https://www.wsj.com/articles/joe-bidens-campaign-ramps-up-outreach-to-liberals-11587123001
• Mr. Biden’s policy plans include expanding Medicare to more Americans, and he has proposed new spending to fight climate change, but his proposals in both areas aren’t as sweeping as many liberals prefer. Ms. Sanders, who isn’t related to the Vermont senator but worked on his 2016 bid, said her message has been that Mr. Biden’s ideas are “in fact a bold platform.”
• The challenge facing Mr. Biden is to engage liberals in the party without jeopardizing the support of the older, more moderate voters who turned out in droves in suburban areas and helped make him the party’s presumptive nominee. Mr. Trump’s campaign is already seeking to paint Mr. Biden as too liberal for most voters.
• Mr. Biden was adopting into his education platform parts of her and Mr. Sanders’s 2017 bill proposing free college for families making less than $125,000 a year.

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