Nel's New Day

March 11, 2020

DDT Tries to Shift Tone on Virus

Tonight, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) gasped his way through a somber 11-minute speech about his upcoming actions for saving the people in the U.S. from covid-19. He began by bragging his good job fighting a “foreign virus,” using “great speed and professionalism.” He blamed Europe for “large clusters” of infection and banned travel to Europe for 30 days. The one exemption, Great Britain, has almost half the cases and one-fourth of the deaths from covid-19 but only 20 percent of the U.S. population. Even the UK Health Minister has been infected. DDT kept his earlier minimalizing, calling the problems “a temporary moment in time” and stating “the virus will not have a chance against us.”

DDT announced ideas such as deferring “tax payments without interest and penalties for certain individuals and businesses negatively impacted.” Earlier, he talked about subsidies for all companies in travel and tourism companies, including the huge airline industry; by yesterday he added a bailout for oil companies. Saudi Arabia’s oil war with Russia was the reason for prices dropping, not covid-19. Another idea in the speech was asking Congress for immediate payroll tax relief, a loss of $1.17 trillion a year, 35.2 percent of federal revenues. Democrats prefer paid sick leave to target victims of the virus, and DDT accused them of not caring about people. GOP senators don’t like either one.

[Note: After the speech, DDT’s statement about the travel ban was corrected. It is “from,” not “to,” and does not apply to U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents, and their immediate family members as well as cargo for trade. Yet DDT still plans to cut 700,000 people off food stamps on April 1.]

Despite his need for Democratic votes, DDT cannot negotiate with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for an economic stimulus plan because he refuses to be in the same room with her. He’s too hurt by the impeachment to help the country—or maybe he knows that his plans help only himself and his friends. In the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he’ll let DDT negotiate with Pelosi. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has been assigned to deal with Congress regarding “targeted emergency assistance,” the term Republicans use to avoid saying “stimulus” or “bailout.”

Kerry Elevald’s summary of the situation:

“Trump blamed Democrats for stoking concerns over the coronavirus; the stock market crashed because the coronavirus is a real thing; now Trump needs Democrats to dig himself out of a hole after he promised the virus was a nothingburger; but Trump’s a little too fragile and spiteful to sit across the table from Pelosi in order to make a deal to help steer the nation through this global public health crisis.”

The GOP raged when President Obama said that everyone could keep their doctor with the healthcare law and accused him of being a liar. DDT lied over 16,000 times since he was inaugurated, and his current lies endanger lives. Last week at the CDC, he claimed that anyone can get tested for covid-19. He may have been referring to South Korea where anyone, including undocumented immigrants, can get tested.

The CDC’s new guidance for testing still doesn’t include “everyone.” Testing is only for “symptomatic patients” with evidence of fever and acute respiratory illness such as cough and difficult breathing, and doctors are supposed to first look for other respiratory illnesses, such as flu. Doctors are told to “work with their local health departments to coordinate testing through public health laboratories” that have limited testing capacities. At the Washington state long-term care center where at least 13 people died from the virus, the shortage prevents 65 employees showing covid-19 symptoms from being tested. CDC-created tests are so complex that they can’t be conducted in a doctor’s office and take four to six hours to complete.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar said that over one million tests “are now out,” but no one knows where. The large West Coast healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente is developing its own test, which will take several weeks, because it hasn’t received any. Neither has Geisinger Health Plan, a huge HMO in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

CDC Director Robert Redfield is concerned that labs in the U.S. won’t have enough critical supplies to extract genetic material from any virus in a patient’s sample. In a break with DDT, Redfield also said that the wall on the southern border won’t be of any help in containing covid-19. Mexico has 12 cases; Canada, U.S.’s neighbor with no planned wall, has 118.

Just 12 hours before DDT’s speech, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the national Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned, “We have got to assume it is going to get worse and worse and worse.” One expert estimated between 70 billion and 150 billion cases. Hours after Fauci was pulled out of testifying before the House Oversight Committee hearing to attend a White House meeting, the World Health Organization officially declared covid-19 a global pandemic. One of DDT’s officials said DDT could “kiss a second term goodbye” if he weren’t more serious about the outbreak. Earlier, DDT ridiculed presidential candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders for not meeting with large audiences after the Tuesday elections; now he has cancelled campaign rallies in Colorado and Las Vegas.

Dr. Helen Y. Chu, an infectious disease expert in Seattle, found the first U.S. case of covid-19 and wanted to contain the disease through monitoring the region. She couldn’t get permission from officials and waited almost a month before she began testing without permission. The chart isn’t accurate. Since Dr. Chu wanted to test people for covid-19, 38 people in the U.S. have died of covid-19, and 1,327 infection cases are in at least 40 states. There could be thousands more, but people can’t get tested.  

Around the world, 4,633 people have died, and 126,367 covid-19 cases have been identified in 124 countries. Two of those are Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson in Australia when Hanks is working on a movie about Elvis Presley. 

Yesterday, DDT was still saying that covid-19 would “go away,” that everything was “working.” He directed, “Just stay calm…. A lot of good things are going to happen.” Tonight, he talked about the speed with which he and his administration were stopping its increases. The few quotes on the chart cover just a sliver of the false messaging from the White House.

The U.S. government has no drive-through testing like South Korea, but states are developing it. The University of Washington Medical Center in North Seattle can currently test 40 to 50 people per day for its students and employees. The university hopes to expand to first responders, long-term care facilities employees, and UW patients with symptoms.  Colorado has a site in Denver offering free testing for people who have a doctor’s note and photo ID. Connecticut hospitals are experimenting with drive-through testing to avoid hospital overcrowding and limit health workers’ exposure to the virus.

DDT doesn’t allow the health crisis to interrupt his golfing for the weekend in Florida. Monday, when he flew on Air Force One with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who was exposed to covid-19 at the CPAC, he tweeted:

“The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, is doing everything within its semi-considerable power (it used to be greater!) to inflame the CoronaVirus situation, far beyond what the facts would warrant.”

President Obama and VP Joe Biden established a permanent Pandemic Response Unit within the National Security Council to quickly respond to epidemics and work with governments around the world to prevent viruses from coming to the U.S. Like all his “de-Obamaizing,” DDT soon disbanded the team, claiming that he doesn’t like “people around when you don’t need them.” He maintained, “When we need them, we can get them back very quickly.” He didn’t.

The man who wants the biggest military he can get, just because he might need them, said in confusion:

“I just think this is something … you can never really think is going to happen…. Who would have thought? Look, how long ago is it? Six, seven, eight weeks ago — who would have thought we would even be having the subject? … You never really know when something like this is going to strike and what it’s going to be.”

DDT finds covid-19 useful in achieving his goals—much stricter border blockages, more tax cuts, reduced imports from China, and far lower interest rates to benefit his businesses. They don’t solve covid-19 or help individuals stay healthy or find care. He’s following Woodrow Wilson who, a century ago, got more control over the economy with the excuse of the 1918 Spanish flu. Wilson used emergency powers and executive orders to control food and fuel distribution as well as the railroad. Watch DDT become even more of a dictator.

December 12, 2011

Republicans’ Payroll Tax Benefits Wealthy

Last week the conservatives in Congress who got elected to find jobs for millions of people in the country while not raising taxes voted against an extension of a payroll tax break for middle-class families. Their objection is that the top 0.1 percent of income earners would have a 1.9 percent tax increase. They defend their refusal to increase taxes for the wealthy by claiming that the Grover Norquist pledge prevents them from doing so. But last week they were comfortable raising taxes for half the people in the nation.

Tomorrow, in the last week before they leave on their holiday recess at the end of the year, the Republicans will vote on a proposal that won’t raise taxes, and they will proudly announce this while accusing the Democrats of wanting to penalize the poor and middle class. The good news about the Republican proposal is that it would maintain the payroll tax at 4.2 percent, partially continue the unemployment payments, and slightly raise the Medicare payments for doctors rather than drastically reducing them. As usual, however, with Republicans there’s lots of bad news.

The Republicans’ bill would add $25.3 billion to the federal deficit over the next 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office, increasing the deficit by $166.8 billion in just the coming year. They are willing to do this after swearing that any raise to the deficit is evil. Democrats have pointed out that the Republicans’ cut-go rules state that a bill must not add to the deficit in the 5-year and 10-year budget windows, but Republicans seem to ignore the rules whenever they choose.

The Republicans’ bill would allow states to require drug testing as a condition of receiving unemployment benefits. A judge has already declared that a Florida law requiring those who apply for welfare benefits to be unconstitutional. Judge Mary Scriven ruled that this law would violate the constitution’s Fourth Amendment ban on illegal search and seizure. “If invoking an interest in preventing public funds from potentially being used to fund drug use were the only requirement to establish a special need,” she wrote, “the state could impose drug testing as an eligibility requirement for every beneficiary of every government program. Such blanket intrusions cannot be countenanced under the Fourth Amendment.”

The Republicans’ bill would repeal $8 million in mandatory funding for the healthcare reform law and cut another $34.9 billion necessary in implementing that law. Language in the bill would also delay and potentially weaken Environmental Protection Agency air-pollution regulations for industrial boilers and incinerators. Republicans have been very strong in asserting that these regulations will hurt business, but EPA says revised boiler regulations aimed at reducing harmful air pollutants such as mercury and soot would only apply to about 1 percent of the country’s boilers and would offer major public health benefits.

The Republicans’ bill would extend a pay freeze for federal workers, prohibit millionaires from receiving unemployment benefits and food stamps, and gradually increase Medicare premiums for the upper-income retirees, those who make more than $80,000. The bill raises the number of Medicare recipients who pay higher premiums from 7 percent of them to 25 percent, affecting not only wealthy but also middle-class retirees.

The Republicans’ bill also changes the health co-payment structure for certain federal retirees, raises fees for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and increases revenue through spectrum auctions, selling the rights (licences) to transmit signals over specific bands of the electromagnetic spectrum and to assign scarce spectrum resources. In addition, the bill allows businesses to deduct the full cost of their equipment investments in as little as one year.

The Republicans’ bill forces the administration to fast-track a permit decision on the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline which the Obama administration wishes to delay until after the 2012 election.

Missing in the Republicans’ bill is the 1.9 percent surtax on millionaires.  Republicans continue to protect the wealthy. Their reason for keeping the money flowing to the wealthy is the same one that they’ve used for the past decade: doing so will hurt the “job creators.” Sen. John Thune (R-SD) used his intuition to declare that a tax increase will keep businesses from job creation. NPR (always on the conservatives’ chopping block) set out to search for these “job creators” who will be affected by the 1.9 percent tax increase.

NPR reporters first went to Republican congressional offices, including House and Senate leadership, who couldn’t find any millionaire “job creator” to be interviewed. Then the reporters went to business groups lobbying against the 1.9 percent surtax. Once again no one. A reason for this failure might be that only 2 percent of people with any business income, large or small, would be affected by the 1.9 percent tax increase.

Instead, several business owners who would get the 1.9 percent increase insist that the tax wouldn’t hurt hiring at all. Business owners continue to tell Republicans that the marginal tax change makes “zero difference” in hiring. Anchor Brewing CEO Keith Greggord said that not a lot of “small-business owners I know are millionaires.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney derided the GOP package, saying, “Their plan seeks to put the burden on working families while giving a free pass to the wealthiest and big corporations by protecting their loopholes and subsidies.” As usual, the Republicans are also blackmailing the Democrats into passing this bill and penalizing the poor people through their additions to the bill such as requiring people getting welfare to take drug tests.

With a raise in the payroll tax, 160 million people would pay an additional 2 percent on the first $106,800 that they earn, an average of an extra $1,000 per year. A surtax on millionaires would charge 1.9 percent on their money over $1,000,000. Only 328,000 people have an adjusted gross income over $1,000,000; they are the top one percent. The bottom 160 million people are the real job creators because each one of them will spend their $1,000. That $120 billion will go into the economy.

The 328,000 millionaires, includes over 250 in Congress, are also developing spending “savvy,” according to a Newsweek article on 12/5/11. This means that the 2010 Bordeaux is too expensive; they’ll stick to the 2009 vintage. According to concierge services at Fischer Travel, the wealthy need a dermatologist in London or former White House doctors who treat them on yachts or private jets. So when they save money because the Republicans take money from the bottom 160 million people in the U.S., they can afford these luxuries–probably from out of the country.

 

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