According to a detailed report at the Daily Beast, Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) are scheming behind the scenes to override lawmakers at the state level and force people back to work during the coronavirus crisis to save their political fortunes with the November election looming.
As the Beast's David Lurie writes, "In the beginning, Donald Trump said 'I alone' can fix everything. Then, as the pandemic gripped the nation, Trump said, the Constitution required the states to take the lead and mandated that governors compete amongst themselves for critical medical equipment and decide whether or not to impose stay-at-home orders to protect their citizens’ lives."
Noting that the president later changed direction and demanded states -- in particular states overseen by Democratic governors -- need to be "liberated," Lurie points out, "if the states don’t agree, Trump is making it plain that he’s prepared to use the full force of the federal government, along with gun-toting militia members, to force governors’ hands, regardless of the danger to Americans’ lives."
"If Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and their corporate allies have their way, the pandemic will provide the pretext for an unprecedented campaign of federal interference with state governments, and possibly the wholesale voiding of hard-fought worker and other legal protections, some of which have been in place since the Great Depression," he wrote. adding that the president has enlisted Attorney General Bill Barr to help do his dirty work with legal threats aimed at the states.
"While Trump’s attorney general is making an unprecedented threat to establish the DOJ as the policeman of the states’ exercise of the police powers, Trump has declared that he has no authority to prevent the governors of states like Georgia to order the reopening of hair salons and tattoo parlors while COVID-19 caseloads continues to increase, in direct contravention of the president’s own guidelines," Lurie wrote. "Accordingly, it appears that the newly discovered power of the federal government to review state health protections does not extend to second-guessing the choices of governors to recklessly risk the lives of their citizens—but permits the second-guessing of governors prudently trying to protect their citizens."
Consulting and working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Trump and McConnell are frantically attempting to get the economy running again with the full knowledge that November election grows closer every day.
"The president and his GOP allies heard the corporate call. Since then, McConnell has declared that the GOP will hold the requests of economically strapped states and municipalities for aid to defray some of the punishing costs they have incurred during the pandemic on Democrats’ agreement to enact many of labor law and liability stripping provisions the chamber has sought into law," Lurie reports. "It remains to be seen whether McConnell’s gambit will succeed, but Trump is not waiting for the result. The nation’s meat processing plants, most staffed by large numbers of immigrant workers from Latin America, are second only to nursing homes and prisons in serving as deadly incubators for the coronavirus."
As the report notes, "Trump issued an executive order declaring that meat processing is 'critical infrastructure' under the Korean War-era Defense Production Act. That is the same act Trump has refused to invoke to facilitate the production of either PPE or viral testing."
"The executive order does not, as some initially, reported, squarely prevent states and localities from shutting down dangerous slaughterhouses; but the message it sent was clear: The president wants them open, regardless of the risk they may pose to workers’ lives," he added.
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