“An executive order stunt is no substitute for real relief that meets the scale of the economic and public health crisis that is currently facing Americans. It is shameful that Senate Republicans and the president are refusing to work to pass the HEROES Act on behalf of the American people.”
That is how a coalition of progressive advocacy groups and labor unions—including the American Federation of Teachers, Care in Action, Community Change Action, Greenpeace, Indivisible, MoveOn, and SEIU—responded after President Donald Trump announced Friday evening is preparing a series of executive orders after high-level talks between his Republican administration and Democratic leaders in Congress essentially collapsed with no agreement on what experts agree is an urgently needed economic relief package amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Senate Republicans and President Trump are abandoning their constituents and the country as a whole, and causing chaos and turmoil by refusing to negotiate on COVID-19 relief,” the groups said in a joint statement. “Right now, the United States is approaching five million cases of COVID-19 and more than 160,000 deaths. Tens of millions of people are facing impossible choices as supplemental unemployment insurance runs out and eviction protections expire. Millions of immigrants and people of color have been entirely unable to access relief, and essential workers are going without protections and benefits they need. Meanwhile voters face the impossible choice between protecting their health and participating in our democracy.”
What good is a fed govt if it refuses to support the most vulnerable in a time of a global pandemic & economic depression? Utter failure by Sen. Mitch McConnell who won’t even bring a vote to the Senate floor to alleviate the tens of mills who are suffering. Pass #HEROESActNOW
— Rahna Epting (@rahnamepting) August 7, 2020
As the Guardian reports:
The president’s pledge to rescue people from poverty and homelessness took place against the unlikely backdrop of his luxury golf club, where annual fees run to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, with members in T-shirts not physically distancing as they watched and applauded him.
Trump called the sudden press conference at his club in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Friday evening after the collapse of talks between White House and Democratic negotiators in Washington. “If Democrats continue to hold this critical relief hostage, I will act under my authority as president to get Americans the relief they need,” the president said.
He vowed to suspend payroll tax and extend unemployment benefits until the end of the year, defer student loan payments indefinitely and forgive interest, and extend a moratorium on evictions.
Reporting for Reuters, journalist Patricia Zengerle explains that because the U.S. Constitution “puts control of federal spending in the hands of Congress, not the president, so Trump does not have the legal authority to issue executive orders determining how money should be spent on coronavirus.”
Progressive critics of the president and Democratic lawmakers, however, warn that Trump’s go-it-alone plan is not only legally dubious but that his stated prescriptions—including protections for pre-existing conditions that already exist under Obamacare or the suspension of payroll tax collections that would only have to be paid back later is also a backdoor effort to defund Social Security and Medicare—would do nothing to solve the crisis that tens of millions of Americans and their families are now facing.
This already exists. It’s called the Affordable Care Act and you are trying to overturn it. https://t.co/w1VNgafzT7
— Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan) August 8, 2020
“It has been 84 days since the HEROES Act passed in the House, a bill which would provide the relief desperately needed. While Senate Republicans and the White House have spent the past two months refusing to engage in negotiations, the economic suffering is getting worse each day,” the coalition of groups said.
Jeff Hauser, who directs the Revolving Door Project at the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), explained in a series of tweets Friday night that Trump’s strategy should be apparent.
“Let’s be very clear: Trump’s plan today is simple,” Hauser said. First, Trump is hoping to get “caught trying to do a lot of the popular things Dems want to do.” And second, he said, the president is trying to show American voters he agrees with the things Democrats have been trying to get done for months “without agreeing to needed funding for elections, including USPS”—one of the many sticking points in the crumbling negotiations.
According to Hauser, the president “believes the result will be: (a) He is popular enough to reduce polling deficit; (b) He can then overcome remaining deficit via cheating amidst chaotic, broken election that’s worse in urban areas.”
Winnie Wong, a progressive organizer and former top advisor to Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign, has been among those who have warned for months that Democrats played into a trap long ago in which Trump would wait until closer to the election—with the help of GOP lawmakers in Congress forcing the delay by not passing additional relief throughout the summer—before trying to present himself as a savior to the public at time more opportune. On April 22, Wong tweeted:
Democrats are getting played by Mitch McConnell right now. This crisis will drag on through the summer with millions of American's falling into utter economic ruin just in time for Trump to save them with a series of relief measures by EO designed to help him win re-election. https://t.co/mD9ICKkM8M
— Fred (@WaywardWinifred) April 22, 2020
In the wake of Trump’s announcement about pending executive orders Friday night, Wong tweeted: “What. The. Fuck. Have. I. Been. Saying.”
Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said the GOP’s refusal to accept a far-reaching legislative deal—in the face of the economic pain now staring millions in the face—is a direct result of their deep antagonism to the very idea of a government that serves the needs of people—even in a pandemic and amid Depression-like unemployment.
GOP: "Well, we wouldn't want the federal government to help states during a pandemic, that would be like…governing." https://t.co/RZiV8xvdnA
— Rep. Mark Pocan (@repmarkpocan) August 7, 2020
While Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have said they remain committed to negotiating on behalf of the American people—with their repeated willingness to compromise away their more adequate initial demands a source of frustration by progressives—there was no sign that talks would advance over the weekend.
“Congress is taking an undeserved weekend break from coronavirus relief negotiations meanwhile Americans don’t have enough unemployment benefits and are worried about getting evicted because no one is protecting or standing up for them,” the progressive advocacy group Stand Up America said Saturday morning.
Jaime Harrison says ‘I am living rent free in Lindsey Graham’s head’ — and he might be right
Jaime Harrison, the Democrat challenging Sen. Lindsey Graham, on Monday said that his upstart campaign is panicking the incumbent.
Harrison was interviewed on MSNBC by "The Last Word" anchor Lawrence O'Donnell, who noted the most recent polling shows a tied race.
"Have you experienced any extra fund-raising surge over the weekend?" O'Donnell asked.
"Well, Lawrence, we have gotten tremendous support and we really appreciate it," Harrison replied.
"Do you believe you have the resources and the campaign team and the ground troops you need in South Carolina to actually pull this off?" O'Donnell asked later in the interview.
Outrage against Dianne Feinstein as potential Judiciary chair comes out against Senate reform
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) received harsh criticism on Monday after coming out against Senate reform of the filibuster.
“I don't believe in doing that. I think the filibuster serves a purpose," Feinstein argued.
"It is not often used, it's often less used now than when I first came, and I think it's part of the Senate that differentiates itself," Feinstein falsely claimed.
Feinstein is in line to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee if Democrats regain the Senate, despite never attending law school or having ever tried a case.
Lindsey Graham announces embattled Sen. Joni Ernst will vote for whomever Trump nominates to replace RBG
The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday announced that GOP members of the body would be united in voting for whomever President Donald Trump nominates to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court.
“The nominee’s going to be supported by every Republican in the Judiciary Committee," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said, as reported by The Washington Post's Aaron Blake.
If Graham is correct, that would mean that Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) would be backing the nomination, despite trailing Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield.