Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Return Of Austerity Hysteria

Republicans continue to say there's no reason to do anything even though 30 million Americans have lost their jobs and 90,000 have died needlessly to COVID-19.

Top Republicans on Capitol Hill are pumping the brakes on new coronavirus stimulus spending days after House Democrats pushed forward with a sweeping relief package, underscoring a deep partisan divide as the nation grapples with the pandemic. 
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, said Tuesday that he does not currently see a need for another relief package, telling CNN there's been no change in his posture despite meeting earlier in the day with Vice President Mike Pence and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about the economy. 
"I don't see the need right now," he said of another package. McCarthy said they talked about the economy, the number of states opening back up and progress in testing.
Asked if there's been a change in his posture against moving now on another relief package, he replied, "No." 
Pence planned to discuss "economic impacts of the coronavirus" during his meeting with Mnuchin, McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell earlier Tuesday morning, according to a source familiar with the Vice President's meeting on Capitol Hill. 
Leaving the Senate floor and after meeting with Pence on Tuesday, McConnell wouldn't respond to questions about whether there's any desire for another rescue package. 
Asked by CNN last week about the possibility of moving ahead on a phase four recovery package, McConnell said, "I don't think we have yet felt the urgency of acting immediately. That time could (come), but I don't think it has yet." 
As Mnuchin left McConnell's office, he said they got a "good update" that was "very helpful" and that he was off to testify before the Senate Banking Committee. 
He declined to respond to a question about whether he thought more Covid-19 aid was needed now.

McCarthy's opinions are meaningless, he's literally the least powerful person in Washington DC right now.  But McConnell continuing to refuse to even offer a package at this point underscores what I've been saying all long: there will be no "phase 4" bill, and you're 100% on your own.

As far as the GOP is concerned, the pandemic is over, you should go back to work, back out to eat, back out to the movies, the gym, the salon, the malls, and spend spend spend. It's your fault the economy is bad.

Meanwhile, Georgia and now Florida have been caught red-handed manipulating COVID-19 data to make sure tourists flock in and hit the beaches.

Late last Friday, the architect and manager of Florida's COVID-19 dashboard — praised by White House officials for its accessibility — announced that she had been removed from her post, causing outcry from independent researchers now worried about government censorship.

The dashboard has been a one-stop shop for researchers, the media and the public to access and download tables of COVID-19 cases, testing and death data to analyze freely. It had been widely hailed as a shining example of transparency and accessibility.

But over the last few weeks it had "crashed" and gone offline; data has gone missing without explanation and access to the underlying data sheets has become increasingly difficult.

The site was created by a team of Florida Department of Health data scientists and public health officers headed by Rebekah Jones. She announced last week her removal as of May 5 in a heartfelt farewell note emailed to researchers and other members of the public who had signed up to receive updates on the data portal.

Citing "reasons beyond my division’s control," Jones said her office is no longer managing the dashboard, is no longer involved in publication, fixing errors or answering questions "in any shape or form."

She warned that she does not know what the new team's intentions are for data access, including "what data they are now restricting."

"I understand, appreciate, and even share your concern about all the dramatic changes that have occurred and those that are yet to come," she wrote.

"As a word of caution, I would not expect the new team to continue the same level of accessibility and transparency that I made central to the process during the first two months. After all, my commitment to both is largely (arguably entirely) the reason I am no longer managing it."

And yes, Jones was told to delete all COVID-19 data so it could later be replaced with better, happier data.  Republican states are actively rewriting away the dead to save themselves in November.

One day before a top Florida Department of Health data manager was taken off her role maintaining the state’s COVID-19 dashboard, officials had directed her to remove data from public view that showed Floridians reported symptoms of the disease before cases were officially announced, according to internal emails obtained by the Tampa Bay Times. She has since been asked to resign, she said Tuesday.

According to the emails, department staff gave the order shortly after reporters requested the same data from the agency on May 5. The data manager, Rebekah Jones, complied with the order, but not before she told her supervisors it was the “wrong call.”

By the next morning, control over the data was given to other employees, according to an email Jones posted Friday on a public listserv. Jones, the department’s Geographic Information Systems manager, wrote that she was no longer the point person for questions about the department’s “Florida’s COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard.” She implied her removal was an act of retribution.

Jones confirmed Tuesday that she was offered a settlement and the option to resign in lieu of being fired, effective May 26.

To recap, Republicans in Congress are pointing to COVID-19 cases and deaths "dropping dramatically" in red states proof that blue states are failing, and shouldn't be bailed out.  Those who don't play ball are fired.

There's your "conspiracy theory" only we know it's happening in real time.

We'll never know how many people this virus ends up killing, because it will be hidden in dozens of states and by the White House while the economic cost rises like a tsunami.

Now go to Applebee's, citizen. You have a duty to your country and your leader to make him look good.

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