Monday Reads: Twenty Three days to a Return to Sanity

Children playing in snow, 1903

Good Day Sky Dancers!

The nightmarish 4 plus years of watching a Malignant Narcissist torment the world are just about over.  In peak form, we got a self-serving presidential memo that doesn’t recognize the havoc he created by letting a bill that maintains the current unemployment insurance sit unattended while he golfed at his club with all the tabs being picked up by the tax payer.  People will have to do job searches and states will have to recertify their status because he waited.  All this while the pandemic gains steam across the nation.

How are we going to make it through these final days? Jill Lawrence–writing for USA Today— has some suggestions.  “Waiting for Joe Biden: How to make it through the final, awful days of Donald Trump. Marie Antoinette had nothing on Trump, who flew to Florida and hit the links after pardoning cronies and upending a desperately needed COVID relief deal”

It should never be shrugged off when a commander in chief offers pardons and clemency to convicted war criminals and white-collar criminals, cronies and allies and crooks with friends in high places. Especially when so many people are in prison due to old laws and requirements that have been overtaken by advances in brain science or new thinking on drug offenses, and that in some cases have been changed by states but not made retroactive. Especially when so many of those in prison are people of color.

It should never be shrugged off when a president flies to his luxury Florida golf club to hit the links after single-handedly upending months of painful negotiations for COVID-19 relief. Marie Antoinette had nothing on Trump. Don’t be fooled by his post-game insistence on $2,000 checks in every pot. He had months to make that demand and convince Republicans it was nonnegotiable. Instead, he made his move in a video three days before Christmas and two days after Congress finally agreed on a deal. This holiday season is now a time of fear and desperation for millions who are facing hunger, eviction and the end of unemployment benefits.

It should never be shrugged off when the leader of a great nation abandons his people in a pandemic, leaving them to disease and death and turning his brilliant, wealthy country into a global role model for failure. From testing, contact tracing and identifying mutations of the coronavirus, to shortages of personal protective equipment and inadequate, belated and sometimes nonexistent economic aid, the U.S. response has been a rolling tragedy of mistakes, inaction, confusion, false starts, false information, propaganda, lies and disrespect for science.

It should never be shrugged off when an entire political party betrays an entire country. Republicans elected and then kept in office a president they knew from the start was incapable of handling an emergency, protecting the general welfare of his fellow citizens, using his vast powers judiciously and nobly, or simply meeting a bare minimum standard of ethical behavior.

Trump caved –according to Mike Allen at Axios–because of congressional pressure.

How it happened: Over many days, Mnuchin and McCarthy — aided by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who golfed with Trump in West Palm Beach on Friday — indulged the president’s rants, told him there was great stuff in the bill, and gave him “wins” he could announce, even though they didn’t change the bill.

  • Playing to his vanity, they invoked his legacy,and reminded him he didn’t want to hurt people.
  • They convinced the author of “The Art of the Deal” that he had shown himself to be a fighter, and that he had gotten all there was to get.

Trump’s sweeteners, from his 8:15 p.m. statement: “[T]he House and Senate have agreed to focus strongly on the very substantial voter fraud which took place in the November 3 Presidential election.”

  • “The Senate will start the process for a vote that increases checks to $2,000, repeals Section 230, and starts an investigation into voter fraud. Big Tech must not get protections of Section 230! Voter Fraud must be fixed! Much more money is coming. I will never give up my fight for the American people!”

Reality check … Republican pollster Frank Luntz, who worked hard to understand Trump, told me: “It may be too late. Too late for him, too late for the economy, too late for Covid, and too late for the Georgia senators.”

This analysis is from Aaron Blake writing for WAPO.

With less than a month to go in his presidency, Trump put a significant ding in whatever exists of that portion of his legacy.

Trump decided over the Christmas holiday to threaten not to sign a combination coronavirus relief package and spending bill. Trump’s chief complaints: The deal delivered only $600 payments to the American people, rather than his desired $2,000, and he didn’t like the so-called pork — and especially foreign funding — in the legislation.

The exercise was bizarre from the jump for a number of reasons. First was that this was a deal forged by his own administration, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin serving as lead negotiator and hailing it shortly before Trump decided to call it “a disgrace.” Second was that Trump raised virtually none of these concerns beforethe bill’s passage, instead waiting until after the hard work had (apparently) been done to hijack the process. And third was that the pork that Trump and his media allies criticized not only wasn’t in the coronavirus relief bill but was rather in an accompanying omnibus spending bill — actually by and large money that Trump himself had requested in his own proposed budget.

GOP Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio) summed it up best last week:

The whole gambit has now fallen apart in a spectacular but utterly predictable way, with Trump relenting and signing the bill Sunday night. Trump dubiously claimed nonspecific concessions from Congress in voter fraud. He also said he will send lawmakers a “redlined” version of the bill “insisting that those funds be removed” from it. But Trump can insist all he wants; Congress has no duty to actually follow through on his demand to that.

This basically means that the screeching in the presidential memo that  linked to up top but refuse to print here is just that.  A huge long wail for attention and an attempt to get us to think he cares about us.  Breaking News:  We don’t care about him.  I don’t want to see him or hear him or even hear any one talk about him for any reason other than a court appearance or a jail sentence.  I want him ignored like any rando internet troll.

Eric Levitz of New York Magazine argues that Trump may have accidently been a transitional president.  Just that statement alone made me go read the article.  The I was kinda sorry I did because all of this stimulus that is mostly due to pressure from the Democratic Congress did not add up to the level of stimulus necessary to get us through this economy or pandemic.  The only thing I see between the Obama stimulus package and this one is that Republicans never want any economic policy but tax cuts to the wealthy and to huge corporations and they just basically try to get rid of spending on everything else. But, oh, well … I went there so now I have to quote it.

Of course, there are several other, massive distinctions between this year’s recession and 2009’s. Three thousand Americans weren’t dying each day from a pandemic disease 11 years ago. The world-historic scale of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the way it sidelined entire economic sectors, make it a categorically different emergency from the Great Financial Crisis. This reality — combined with the fact that the COVID crisis happened to arrive in a year when a Republican president was up for reelection — might seem sufficient to explain why a GOP Congress was willing to condone the CARES Act’s generous fiscal provisions.

But I think there’s more to it than that. For one thing, by injecting another $900 billion into the economy now— at a time when average disposable income in the U.S. is exceptionally high — Senate Republicans effectively set Joe Biden up to preside over a robust recovery when (and if) the U.S. achieves herd immunity through vaccination.

The fact that the typical American worker — who did not lose her job during the pandemic but did receive an unexpected $1,200 from the government — is actually in solid financial shape should not blind anyone to the utter financial devastation that is being needlessly visited upon tens of millions of less fortunate Americans. Nor should it obscure the holes that the pandemic has left in many state and city budgets and the implications that will have for social services and public transit absent further federal aid. The $900 billion stimulus is criminally insufficient to the scale of our nation’s mass suffering and fiscal woes. But in strictly macroeconomic terms — which is to say, in terms of whether there will be enough demand in the economy to fuel strong (if grossly inequitable) growth next year — the stimulus may be larger than necessary: The GOP donor class did not need U.S. households to get another $600 from the government in order to see their portfolios appreciate in 2021.

The fact that congressional Republicans supported stimulus anyway likely reflects the financial desperation of small-business owners, a powerful constituency within their coalition, as well as a calculation that failure to pass stimulus will undermine their incumbent senators in the Georgia runoff elections. But I believe that it is also indicative of deficit hawks’ declining ideological power — which the first three years of the Trump presidency did much to erode.

I really do not understand how you can argue declining power of deficit hawks in this scenario.  It seems bizarre. There are never any Republican deficit hawks when we blow through a budget and a create huge deficits due to tax cuts.  That argument only comes up when taxpayer money returns to the middle class which it really didn’t in this latest package.  Anyway, go read this astoundingly crazy analysis and shake your head along with me if you dare.

So, here are some other articles I highly suggest you read.

And that’s enough from me today!   We sure wont’ be out of this mess any time soon but at least we won’t have to deal with that horrid man any more.

What’s on your reading and blogging list ?

9 Comments on “Monday Reads: Twenty Three days to a Return to Sanity”

  1. dakinikat says:

    Counting down to 2021 !!! Happy New Year’s a’ coming!

  2. NW Luna says:

    So Levitz thinks there are Republican deficit hawks? Hahahaha. Only when a Democratic president is in the White House. I’m shaking my head along with you.

    • dakinikat says:

      Exactly. They never say a thing when there’s a Republican. Reagan turned into a full blown Keynesian with deficit spending during his two recessions because the tax cuts didn’t work.

      • djmm says:

        The presidency of George W Bush is another example. Republican deficit hawks said not a word when he and the Congress produced massive tax cuts for the rich, blowing through President Clinton’s surplus.

      • dakinikat says:

        • quixote says:

          It should have been called the Covid Relief Bill, but it’s been called a _stimulus_ bill. Seems a tad idiotic to complain that a stimulus bill will be stimulating the economy 🙄