Friday, October 16, 2020

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion, Con't

 Here's everything you need to know about 2020.

First, in the early days of the pandemic, the Trump regime, while telling America that everything was under control, was secretly telling the titans of Wall Street that the pandemic was a real threat. Wall Street sold off the markets and made trillions.

On the afternoon of Feb. 24, President Trump declared on Twitter that the coronavirus was “very much under control” in the United States, one of numerous rosy statements that he and his advisers made at the time about the worsening epidemic. He even added an observation for investors: “Stock market starting to look very good to me!”

But hours earlier, senior members of the president’s economic team, privately addressing board members of the conservative Hoover Institution, were less confident. Tomas J. Philipson, a senior economic adviser to the president, told the group he could not yet estimate the effects of the virus on the American economy. To some in the group, the implication was that an outbreak could prove worse than Mr. Philipson and other Trump administration advisers were signaling in public at the time.

The next day, board members — many of them Republican donors — got another taste of government uncertainty from Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council. Hours after he had boasted on CNBC that the virus was contained in the United States and “it’s pretty close to airtight,” Mr. Kudlow delivered a more ambiguous private message. He asserted that the virus was “contained in the U.S., to date, but now we just don’t know,” according to a document describing the sessions obtained by The New York Times.

The document, written by a hedge fund consultant who attended the three-day gathering of Hoover’s board, was stark.“What struck me,” the consultant wrote, was that nearly every official he heard from raised the virus “as a point of concern, totally unprovoked.”

The consultant’s assessment quickly spread through parts of the investment world. U.S. stocks were already spiraling because of a warning from a federal public health official that the virus was likely to spread, but traders spotted the immediate significance: The president’s aides appeared to be giving wealthy party donors an early warning of a potentially impactful contagion at a time when Mr. Trump was publicly insisting that the threat was nonexistent.

Interviews with eight people who either received copies of the memo or were briefed on aspects of it as it spread among investors in New York and elsewhere provide a glimpse of how elite traders had access to information from the administration that helped them gain financial advantage during a chaotic three days when global markets were teetering.

The rest of us got screwed. And for millions of us, without jobs, without help from an indifferent Senate GOP blocking any further CVOID-19 legislation, and without a place to go, millions of us now find ourselves in poverty over the last several months.

The number of people in the United States living in poverty grew by 8 million since May, according to a study by the Columbia University Center on Poverty & Social Policy released Thursday — a surged fueled by the economic downturn during the pandemic and the expiration of added weekly unemployment payments back in July.

The study found that the $1,200 one-time payments to those earning under a certain income threshold, coupled with an added $600 per week of unemployment insurance for laid-off workers received, helped stave off an increase in poverty at the beginning of the pandemic.

However, once Senate Republicans allowed those payments to expire in July, the number of people living in poverty began to climb — hurting children, as well as Black and Hispanic populations, the most, the study found.

"Due to the expiration of the CARES Act’s stimulus checks and $600 per week supplement to unemployment benefits, the monthly poverty rate in September was higher than rates during April or May, and also higher than pre-crisis levels," the study found.

House Democrats have twice passed an extension of the $600 weekly unemployment checks — once in May, before the payments expired, and again in early October.

However, the Senate — led by Republican Mitch McConnell of Kentucky — has refused to take up those bills, claiming they were too expensive and not needed.

Senate Republicans let the payments expire at the end of July, before leaving Washington, D.C., for nearly a month. Upon their return, the GOP-led Senate has been unable to pass coronavirus aid.

If the GOP remains in power, millions of Americans will fall into poverty, period. We have a clear choice, now, and we need to make it. 

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