Thursday, April 9, 2020

Last Call For Ridin' With Biden

Now that Joe Biden is the presumptive nominee, the matchups right now are solidly in his favor against Donald Trump.

Former Vice President Joe Biden holds a wide lead over President Donald Trump in the national race for the White House, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS
Biden leads Trump 53% to 42% among registered voters, roughly steady from CNN's poll in early March. The nationwide picture shows Biden starts with an edge among voters generally, but national polling cannot address the state-by-state electoral college race which ultimately determines the presidency. 
The coronavirus pandemic has drastically altered presidential campaigning. Biden and Trump have paused in-person campaign events, and states have pushed back primary elections until the summer months. 
Biden holds an edge over Trump as more trusted to handle several key issues, including the response to the coronavirus outbreak (52% to 43%), health care (57% to 39%) and helping the middle class (57% to 38%).  
But Trump narrowly tops Biden on who would do a better job handling the economy, with 50% saying the President would and 46% saying Biden, despite a down tick in Trump's approval rating for handling the economy and a sharp rise in negative views of the nation's economy, according to data from the same poll released earlier this week. 
Biden's advantages on health care and helping the middle class are bolstered by crossover from those who approve of Trump -- around one in 8 Americans who give Trump positive reviews think Biden would do a better job than him on health care and helping the middle class. 
And even though very few Democrats defect from Biden on those two issues, the President's edge on the economy gets a boost from the 16% of Democrats who say Trump would do a better job than Biden on the issue. 
In the general election match up, however, there is very little crossover support for either Biden or Trump among partisans: Biden is supported by 91% of Democrats, while Trump holds 96% of Republicans. Independent voters break for Biden, 52% behind the former vice president, 40% for Trump. 
The demographic divides that defined the 2016 election seem likely to persist in 2020. Biden carries 62% of women to 32% for Trump, while Trump leads among men (51% to 44% for Biden).

Biden is winning women by 30 points right now, and if that holds, he wins.  Trump can't make up that margin.  Overall, Biden has a 48-47% lead among non college graduates and a massive 63%-32% lead among college graduates.

The only thing keeping Trump in the race is white voters without college degrees, they prefer Trump 63-33%, and he needs a 30-point margin with them just to keep him within ten points overall of Biden.  White voters with college degrees prefer Biden by 27 points.

Joe Biden can win this.  Having said that, we already know the lengths Trump will go to in order to cheat and win, including not having an election, or one where only a fraction of people will be able to vote in.

Take nothing for granted, including your current voter registration.

The Worst-Case Scenario, Con't

Another 6.6 million new jobless claims means almost 17 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the last three weeks, and there's no indication this pace is slowing at all.

Jobless rolls continued to swell due to the coronavirus shutdown, with 6.6 million Americans filing first-time unemployment claims in the week ended April 4, the Labor Department reported Thursday. 
That brings the total over the past three weeks to more than 16 million.

The most recent number represents a decline of 261,000 from a week ago, which was revised up by 219,000 to nearly 6.9 million. 
The ongoing surge in filings for unemployment insurance has been exacerbated by the expansion of those who can file claim. The CARES Act has expanded the group to include the self-employed and independent contractors. 
Prior to the social distancing efforts used to combat the coronavirus spread, the jobs market had been strong. In the six-month period prior to a shutdown that has taken offline much of the U.S. economy’s capacity, nonfarm payroll growth had averaged 221,000 a month. 
However, March saw a decline of 701,000 that only began to measure how deeply the virus had impacted the employment situation.

Jerome Powell and the Federal Reserve have finally stepped in with the $2.2 trillion "Main Street" lending program created by the CARES bill for local government and business loans to help keep cities and towns functioning.

The Federal Reserve on Thursday released long-awaited details regarding its Main Street business lending program and several other initiatives it is undertaking to backstop the reeling U.S. economy. 
Under provisions outlined for the first time, the loans would be geared toward businesses with up to 10,000 employees and less than $2.5 billion in revenues for 2019. Principal and interest payments will be deferred for a year.

The Fed said the programs would total up to $2.3 trillion and include the Payroll Protection Program and other measures aimed at getting money to small businesses and bolstering municipal finances with a $500 billion lending program. 
“Our country’s highest priority must be to address this public health crisis, providing care for the ill and limiting the further spread of the virus,” Fed Chair Jerome Powell said in a statement. “The Fed’s role is to provide as much relief and stability as we can during this period of constrained economic activity, and our actions today will help ensure that the eventual recovery is as vigorous as possible.” 
The Main Street loans would be a minimum of $1 million and a maximum of either $25 million or an amount that “when added to the Eligible Borrower’s existing outstanding and committed but undrawn debt, does not exceed four times the Eligible Borrower’s 2019 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization,” whatever is less, according to a Fed release. 
The Fed will purchase up to $600 billion in loans.

Terms would see an interest rate equal to the Fed’s Secure Overnight Financing Rate, currently 0.01%, plus 250-400 basis points with a four-year maturity.

This includes the Payroll Protection Program loans to keep employees paid through the pandemic, but considering we've already seen 16 million people file for unemployment, who knows where actual job losses are.  It's a mess and coming up on Easter weekend means more delays in getting this money out.

We could see that 16 million double by the end of the month.  Social distancing measures are going to require months, and right now this government is nowhere near being able to handle months of five or six million new jobless claims per week.

We need a US Marshall Plan on New Deal steroids, and we needed it 30 days ago.  America's current for-profit model of basic necessities -- food, shelter, water, power, internet, health care -- is done.  It won't survive another six weeks.

I don't know what will replace it.  But if the Trump regime has its way, it'll be the ultimate in Laffer Curve idiocy.

Republican economist Art Laffer, an architect of the Reagan era tax cuts that paved the way for historic budget deficits in the United States, has a plan to rejuvenate today’s pandemic-crippled economy.

Tax non-profits. Cut the pay of public officials and professors. Give businesses and workers who manage to hold on to their jobs a payroll tax holiday to the end of the year.

What about the extra aid funneled to newly jobless workers by the $2.3 trillion fiscal rescue package? Such government spending, Laffer told Reuters in an interview, will only serve to deepen the downturn and slow the recovery.

“If you tax people who work and you pay people who don’t work, you will get less people working,” Laffer said. “If you make it more unattractive to be unemployed, then there’s an incentive to go look for another job faster.”

Laffer’s unconventional plan isn’t just an academic exercise. First of all, he says he has presented it to his contacts at the White House. They include presidential economic advisor Larry Kudlow, who considers Laffer a mentor.

Laffer is also being floated in influential right-wing circles as a good candidate to head a proposed new industry task force aimed at re-opening the U.S. economy as soon as possible. “Bring in the minds like Art Laffer,” Sean Hannity, the Fox News host said April 6 of the proposed task force.

Trump tweeted his support for the new economic task force on April 4, calling it a “good idea.” He hasn’t yet mentioned Laffer, but on Tuesday reiterated his support for a payroll tax cut, saying it would be a “fantastic time” to deliver it.

Trump awarded Laffer the Presidential Medal of Freedom last year.

Every one of these ideas Laffer has is designed to destroy Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security for good by starving it out and forcing Americans to work until they die.

Which, if this keeps up, will be much sooner rather than later.

Taking Stock Of The Situation

Georgia GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler is now fighting for her political life as her insider trading scandal involving buying of COVID-19 medical stocks and selling of just about everything else following a classified Senate briefing in January has become a weapon for her Republican opponent in November as well as her Democratic one.

Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) announced Wednesday that she is liquidating her stock portfolio and converting the holdings to general exchange-traded and mutual funds amid persistent allegations that she traded stocks based on privileged information about the coronavirus outbreak.  
“Although Senate ethics rules don’t require it, my husband and I are liquidating our holdings in managed accounts and moving into exchange-traded funds and mutual funds. I will report these exiting transactions in the periodic transaction report I file later this month,” she wrote. 
Loeffler, one of the richest members of Congress, made her announcement in a Wall Street Journal op-ed Wednesday afternoon, a day after her Republican opponent, Rep. Doug Collins (Ga.), released an internal poll showing him with a large lead.  
The Battleground Connect survey showed Collins with 36 percent support, followed by Democratic candidate Raphael Warnock with 16 percent and Loeffler with 13 percent.
Collins, Loeffler and Warnock will all face each other in a special election in November. Unless someone wins a majority of the vote, the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, will advance to a runoff election in January. 
Collins has attacked Loeffler relentlessly in recent weeks over stock transactions she and her husband made after senators, including Loeffler, received a briefing from health officials on Capitol Hill Jan. 24.  
Loeffler and her spouse, Jeffrey Sprecher, the CEO of Intercontinental Exchange and the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, made more than 20 stock transactions totaling millions of dollars after the briefing. 
“People are losing their jobs, their businesses, their retirements, and even their lives and Kelly Loeffler is profiting off their pain?” Collins tweeted shortly after the transactions were revealed. “I’m just sickened thinking about it.”  
Loeffler has always maintained that the stock purchases and sales were made by third-party investment managers and she was only informed after the fact. 
“As longtime executives at a Fortune 500 financial-services firm, my husband and I put this arrangement in place to insulate ourselves and our colleagues from these sorts of unfounded accusations,” Loeffler, 49, a former investment relations professional who is worth an estimated $500 million, wrote in Wednesday’s op-ed.

The fact is Loeffler is looking for the kind of loopholes that only a US senator worth a half-billion can afford, and in an era where the ranks of the unemployed are rapidly reaching 20% or more, not even Georgia is going to reelect her.  Granted, it means she'll probably be replaced by Doug Collins, who is a real Trumpian asshole, but I'm guessing Collins is going to have his own problems being so heavily tied to Trump.

November seems like a decade from now, but we have to hang in there.


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