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Daily Archives: March 5, 2020
Posted: March 5, 2020 at 7:02 pm
The 116th Congress also demonstrated that political influence outside of Washington does not always translate into legislative victories, as progressives are promising.
Without question Ms. Ocasio-Cortezs influence on the Democratic Party also is striking in modern politics for a freshman House member. In her first few months in office she got normally skittish Democrats and some early presidential candidates to sign on to her Green New Deal (introduced with Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts), forced a national conversation about marginal tax rates and Medicare for All, helped tank a plan for Amazon to move to Queens, and catalyzed a vast rejection of corporate PAC money for incumbents who had just a year ago eschewed that plan as impractical at best, unilateral disarmament at worst.
But here was the reality for progressives: Medicare for All got little more than a hearing or two, while the House passed bill after bill pressing more incremental health care changes (but none of which the Republican-controlled Senate would even entertain). The Green New Deal had a messy if high-profile roll out, then fizzled. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez did not have even the modest legislative victories enjoyed by other freshman Democrats like Joseph Neguse of Colorado, Deb Haaland of New Mexico and Lauren Underwood of Illinois, who ran on getting health care bills on the floor.
What is more, many Democrats began to fret early on that the far left was going to do to them what the Tea Party had done to Republicans a few years back: Run them out of town, one primary at a time. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez previously suggested that Democrats who were not sufficiently loyal to an emergent brand of progressive politics should have others like her run against them in a primary. She is now suggesting that, exit polling be damned, Mr. Bidens latest string of successes is because of the strong-arming of corporate lobbyists, something Mr. Sanders has underscored by repeatedly calling Mr. Biden the establishment candidate.
But the results speak for themselves. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez threw her weight behind Cristina Tzintzn Ramirez in her Senate primary campaign in Texas to defeat the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committees chosen candidate, M.J. Hegar. Ms. Hegar ended up easily outpacing a crowded Democratic field.
There are some people who one dont really seem to understand the math of the majority making, said Representative Abigail Spanberger, a former intelligence officer, whose Richmond-area district had been held by Republicans for decades. Theres some people that just think that were out of touch and that if we just worked hard, more Democrats would come out of the woodwork, and so we should just try to say to all the things that excite all the Democrats. You can say that until youre blue in the face, but there are just not that many Democrats in my district.
Jennifer Steinhauer, a political reporter for The Times, is the author of the forthcoming The Firsts: The Inside Story of the Women Reshaping Congress.
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Posted: at 7:02 pm
Photo: Jessica Cisneros for Congress/Flickr
Jessica Cisneros came so close. But as the sound and fury of Super Tuesday faded to awhimper, it became obvious that she would not unseat Henry Cuellar. The conservative Democrat will instead represent Texass 28th Congressional District for another two years. Cisneros, meanwhile, promised supporters that her fight would continue. Theres every reason to believe it will: At 26 years old, she has plenty of time to hone her strategy for elections to come.
Cuellar may have won, but he doesnt have much to celebrate. His margin of victory over Cisneros, a newcomer who lacked his connections and the support of the partys elders, betrays vulnerability. The combined support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Koch network, and the local oil and gas industry was barely enough to keep him in power. Two years from now, or four years from now whenever Cisneros or someone like her marshals the resources for another primary run the Cuellar coalition might be obsolete.
The fragility of Cuellars grasp on power has implications much bigger than Cuellar himself. It also indicts party leaders, who largely embraced Cuellar ahead of Tuesdays election. Though Cuellar has an A rating from the NRA and a poor record on climate change, and backs severe restrictions on abortion rights, Pelosi not only endorsed him but actively campaigned for him. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee instituted a blacklist designed to deter vendors and consultants from providing their services to insurgents like Cisneros. Pelosi and others worked against the labor movement, and major party allies like EMILYs List, all to keep Cuellar in a district that any Democrat would probably win.
But their political calculations may soon be out-of-date. By working against young candidates like Cisneros, even in safe Democratic districts, party leaders are working against a viable future for the party. Young voters are already worlds apart from Democrats like Cuellar. They want universal health care and colleges they can afford to attend; they want to raise children on a planet that isnt doomed. The generation gap that separates Democrats of Cisneross ilk fromthe partys more conservative Establishment has as much to do with ideology as it does with age. If the party concedes nothing to the young left, it will weaken itself.
Though the midterms sent young moderates like Abby Finkenauer of Iowa to Congress right alongside socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, young Democrats are much more likely than any other demographic to back Medicare for All and the Green New Deal both hallmarks of the Cisneros campaign. In a recent survey by Harris Poll, nearly half of all Millennials and members of Generation Z said theyd prefer to live in a socialist country. Sixty-seven percent said they supported the notion of tuition-free college; an even higher number, 73 percent, said they wanted universal health care. It isnt difficult to understand why young adults diverge so dramatically from their forebears. The trajectories of their adulthoods have been altered fundamentally by student-loan debt, a looming climate crisis, and medical costs they cant afford. Pelosi and others may believe theyre holding back the tide that by keeping moderates in their seats, they deflect damaging right-wing policies. To voters staring down the rest of their uncertain lives, the partys stratagems look a lot like cowardice.
A similar dynamic is playing out in the presidential primary. Youth turnout is still low, but when they do vote, young voters overwhelmingly prefer Bernie Sanders. Moderate Democrats, though, are coalescing around Biden. The party Establishments clear preference for Biden over Sanders, and Cuellar over Cisneros, stems from the same strategy and the same fear. It posits, to the persuadable, that politicians like Biden and Cuellar are just more electable, which makes them a sure defense against Trump. In Bidens case, the partys pundit-fueled obsession with electability probably helps explain why older voters prefer him by far to his democratic socialist alternative.
But circumstances have forced younger voters to adopt a much different definition of security. While the 78-year-old Sanders may seem like a liability to older voters, his policies and image as a fighter recommend him to the young. Hes a necessity, not a risk; his urgency isnt utopian, but realistic. Considered against the backdrop of a warming planet and an increasingly stratified economy, the Sanders platform doesnt look that radical at all. For the same reasons, candidates like Cisneros have also begun to look like inevitabilities. Their victories may be few at the moment, but organizations like Justice Democrats the group that recruited Cisneros, and Ocasio-Cortez too will keep fielding them.
Democrats dont necessarily have to worry about losing young people to the GOP; Republicans have a much more difficult time keeping young voters engaged. The real risk is alienation. The party might not turn young people to the right; it just might turn them off altogether. Its unwise to assume that young people who do not vote will at some point become old people who do. The alternative possibility that disillusioned youth will become disillusioned middle-aged people and eventually disillusioned seniors must rate consideration. Unless Democrats can find a way to stoke youth enthusiasm about their candidates and the electoral process in general, their long-term prospects are poor. They might defeat Trump, though its a dubious prospect if the frequently incoherent Biden is their nominee. Even if they manage to get Trump out of power, defeating one man is only half the battle. The presidents brand of far-right nationalism only amplifies mainstream conservative thinking. It will be with us for years. The party needs fighters, and it needs popular support, and it wont have either if it remains so dramatically out of step with the needs of the future.
Pelosi and friends should look at Henry Cuellar and bemoan the time and effort it took to keep him in power. They should look at Joe Biden and worry; 2016 is not such a distant memory. The party is skilled at mollifying the oldest and most conservative factions of its base. But what harm would it really do to let young people lead for once? The worst outcome is a more cohesive party, united in its commitment to legal abortion and green policy and universal health care that lives up to the name. The future might actually be worth living.
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Posted: at 7:02 pm
More than one-fifth of all income for the top 1 percent of earners in America comes from capital gains, according to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office.
Its really not an issue of billionaires sit on piles of cash, of idle money that the government should take, said Gabriel Zucman, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley. Its really an issue of you have people who have capacity to pay a lot of taxes and the way to get them to pay more is by taxing capital.
The need for more tax revenue is clear to many Democrats who want to fund government programs meant to help the poor and the middle class, including universal child care, paid leave, early-childhood education and free college.
But the United States taxes income from capital gains at a lower rate than it taxes income from jobs. Orthodox free-market economists argue that comparatively lower taxes on capital gains stimulate investment, and conservatives warn that raising those taxes would hamper economic growth.
Right now, one of the biggest problems we have is low investment even with low interest rates, said Karl Smith, vice president for federal policy at the Tax Foundation in Washington, a think tank that tends to support lower taxes on businesses and capital gains. In general, taxing capital or productive assets is going to make that problem even worse.
Mr. Biden and Mr. Sanders favor raising the tax rate for capital gains, such as profit on the sale of a stock or a business, to the same rate as taxes on labor income. Mr. Bidens increases would be smaller, and apply to fewer Americans, than Mr. Sanderss.
Currently, married taxpayers earning up to just under $80,000 a year pay no taxes on capital gains from assets held longer than a year. The top rate, for those earning just under $500,000 a year, is 23.8 percent, compared with a top rate of 37 percent for labor income.
Posted: at 7:02 pm
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. (Alex Brandon / AP Photo)
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Keller, TexasOn the same night that President Trump invoked the specter of failing government schools in his State of the Union address, Texas Republican Giovanni Capriglione was working hard to establish his public school bona fides. Elected to the Texas House as part of the 2012 Tea Party wave, Capriglione reminded voters here in Keller, an affluent suburb of Fort Worth, that he was a product of public schools, his wife is too, and that his children attend them now. Grade by grade, he named his favorite teachers.Ad Policy
While Trump used his pulpit to make clear his administrations contempt for public schools, Capriglione wooed the voters he hopes will send him back to the state legislature with calls for more generous school funding, less standardized testing, and more rigorous oversight of charter schools.
Why such disparate messaging?
In a word: elections. In 2018 Texas Democrats flipped 12 formerly Republican legislative seats, half in the fast-growing region around Dallas and Fort Worth known as the Metroplex. While the Texas version of the blue wave was fueled in part by enthusiasm for the Senate candidacy of Beto ORourke, Democrats also ran hard against what they characterized as the GOPs antipathy toward public education. Voters ejected several school voucher advocates, while candidates who ran as supporters of public schools were rewarded. And while Trump is beloved among rural Texans, they are not fans of his signature education issue, education freedom, aka sending taxpayer funds to private and religious schools.Education Policy
Our rural communities are knit together by their public schools, says Pastor Charles Johnson, head of the public education advocacy group Pastors for Texas Children. Its why they tend to oppose privatization, no matter who is pushing it.
A similar dynamic is playing out in other key 2020 states. Even as Trump tries to lure back disaffected suburban moderates and hold on to his loyal rural supporters, his administration is peddling an education agenda that is increasingly under fire in states that are essential to his reelection bid. The deep divide between what such voters want for their schools and what Trump and state-level Republicans are offering presents an opportunity for Democrats to build on their 2018 gains, and perhaps even deny Trump a second term.
In Ohio, education freedom is on a collision course with two important Trump constituencies: rural and suburban voters. For months, lawmakers have been scrambling to contain the political fallout as the number of students who qualify for private school vouchers has suddenly ballooned. Ohios urban districts have felt the financial pain of pro-voucher policies for decades. Whats different about the latest expansion is that vouchers have suddenly emerged as a threat to suburban and rural school districts where Republicans hold sway.
Thanks to a handful of provisions slipped into the latest state budget by a Republican state senator, requirements for receiving vouchers were dramatically loosened. Students at private schools can now get taxpayer money even if theyve never attended a public school, and keep the benefit until they graduate. More budgetary hijinx resulted in a huge increase in the number of Ohio public schools labeled as underperforming, making their students eligible for a private school voucher. Some 1,200 schools are on the list for the 202021 school year, up from 500 last year, including schools in some of Ohios top suburban districts. What began as a program in a single city now effects 95 per cent of Ohio school districts, costing taxpayers nearly $350 million annually.Current Issue
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Vouchers used to be a Cleveland problem, now theyre a suburban GOP problem, says Stephen Dyer, an education policy fellow at Innovation Ohio. We all know how important suburban women are to the GOP.
Vouchers are also increasingly a rural problem. In Wauseon, a northern Ohio farming community of 7,500, school leaders are now grappling with how to cover the cost of private school tuition for local students. But looming even larger than the brutal math of what programs to cut or which teachers to let go is the question of why the GOP seems so intent on undermining rural schools. Troy Armstrong, who became the superintendent of the Wauseon schools last year, grew up and graduated from the schools here, as did his kids. Armstrong worries about the ultimate aim of Ohios swelling voucher program. Is it to decimate public education so that private schools become the sole source of education? Thats what it feels like.
Fulton County, where Wauseon is located, went overwhelmingly for Trump back in 2016, and yet it is in communities like this where the GOPs education freedom agenda finds the least appeal. Public schools in rural Ohio function as community hubs, providing places to gather, sources of entertainment, and, most importantly, jobs. Were the largest employer. We employ more than any corporation, says Tom Perkins, the superintendent of the Northern Local School District in the village of Thornville. In a vast rural district like hisNorthern Local spans 172 square miles and is the major school system for conservative Perry CountyGOP talking points about breaking up the public school monopoly are a tough sell, not to mention a geographic impossibility. In talking with members of my community, theyre outraged, says Perkins. Private school vouchers represent a shift of money to a favored few at the expense of the many.
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When Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos traveled to Wisconsin in January to stump for Trump and promote school choice, their appearance was confined to a heavily orchestrated rally in the Capitol building in Madison. In the very parts of the state where their boss is most popular, the school vouchers at the center of his education agenda are increasingly controversial. In 2013, under Scott Walker, Wisconsin expanded its school voucher program across the state. Last year, Wisconsin taxpayers sent nearly $350 million to private religious schools.
While vouchers originated here as an urban experimentMilwaukees 30-year-old Parental Choice Program is the oldest such initiative in the countrytheir impact these days is increasingly felt in small rural communities. It affects them all, says Kim Kaukl, who heads up the Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance. Even if they dont have a voucher school in their district, their piece of the pie is shrinking as Wisconsin sends more and more funding to private schools.
For rural districts that have never recovered from the deep cuts to education spending that were a hallmark of the Walker era, the diversion of funding to private religious schools is a costly burden. Under Wisconsins school funding model, money leaves as student enrollment declines. Communities that have hemorrhaged population as family farms withered and manufacturing jobs disappeared already strain to educate the students who remain. Rural voters are routinely asked to approve raises in property taxes just so schools can continue operating or to defray the cost of sending local students to religious schools.
In 2016, voters in Florence County voted to hike their own taxes for a major school improvement project, while also pulling the lever for Donald Trump by the largest margins of any Wisconsin county. While Florence may be a geographic outlierthe remote northeastern county borders Michigans Upper Peninsulathe phenomenon of conservative voters hiking their taxes to pay for schools is increasingly the norm. In recent years, the number of such appeals has skyrocketed, especially in rural communities. In 2018 alone, taxpayers agreed to pay an additional $2 billion in property taxes to support their local schools; of the measures that went before voters that year, nearly 90 percent were approved.
There is an obvious political paradox at play here. In the reddest reaches of Wisconsin, the same communities that are voting to hike their own taxes in order to save their local schools are electing and reelecting GOP lawmakers whove consistently embraced policies that weaken those schools. Kaukl lays at least part of the blame on what he calls politicking. Wisconsins extreme gerrymandering protects lawmakers from voter backlash, while controversial measures like vouchers are never voted on openly but instead quietly tucked into massive budget bills. Says Kaukl: Republicans know how unpopular these policies are. Its hard to get them to come to rural communities and talk about education because they know theyll get chewed up.
Across the border in Michigan, another key battleground state, rural schools are faring just as poorly. While Michigans constitution prohibits diverting public funds to private religious schools, years of funding cuts have taken a steep toll on rural districts. Nor can communities turn to local taxpayers for helpstate law largely prohibits it. When David Arsen, a professor of education policy at Michigan State University, mapped the impact of decades of funding cuts to local school districts, he found dramatic declines in rural, small-town and suburban Michigan, areas that are disproportionately represented by Republican legislators. These are places where schools are viewed as central to community life and yet the decline in funding has forced local schools to cut the services that students need and parents want, says Arsen.
In 2018, Democrats in Michigan made significant inroads into longtime Republican suburban strongholds by running as advocates for the states embattled public schools. One of the most dramatic upsets came in Wayne County, where Dayna Polehanki, a teacher whod never run for office before, defeated GOP challenger Laura Cox despite being outspent by more than two to one. Polehanki focused relentlessly on the poor state of K-12 education in Michigan, calling for a hike in school spending and the elimination of the profit motive from schools, topics about which her opponent had little to say. Cox, meanwhile, is now the head of the Republican Party in Michigan, tasked with ensuring that the state remains in the Trump column in 2020.
And yet unlike in Texas, where GOP lawmakers are scrambling to distance themselves from unpopular education policies, Michigan Republicans will find such a rebranding act hard to pull off. The DeVos familys outsize role in Michigan politics, including bankrolling the Republican Party, keeps the GOP tethered to a pro-privatization, antipublic school vision, whether or not it resonates with the partys constituents. In the 2018 election cycle alone, the extended DeVos clan ponied up more than $11 million in political donations to favored candidates and causes. Then theres the familys willingness to primary candidates who stray from school choice orthodoxy. Says Arsen: Republicans will lose a growing share of Michigan voters if the DeVos family continues to insist that the partys candidates endorse the familys education policy positions.
Yet if Democrats are aware that the roiling politics of education offer the party a potential opening in crucial 2020 states, they are keeping it awfully quiet. On the campaign trail and the debate stage, when education surfaces as an issue at all, the presidential contenders stick to bumper-sticker stuff: higher-pay for teachers, more funding for high-poverty schools, fewer high-stakes tests. Nor do the Democrats have much to say about the rural schools attended by one-quarter of American kids. Public education, as the would-be presidents define it, seems to be a city thing. And other than Betsy DeVos reliable role as party punching bag, the Democrats have directed relatively little energy towards distinguishing their vision from Trumps. Indeed far more ink has been spilled over the partys internecine dispute over charter schools, an issue that barely affects rural and suburban voters, than on the existential threats to public education in must-win states.
In order to capitalize on voter dissatisfaction with GOP education policies, Democrats will have to do more than malign Betsy DeVos. They will also have to draw a sharp distinction from recent Democratic party orthodoxy on public education. For the past three decades, Democrats have embraced the market-oriented thinking that is now reaching its logical conclusion in the form of education freedom. By making the rhetoric of individual choice and competition their own, Democrats have inadvertently eroded the idea of education as a public good, making its defense, and the case for higher spending on schools, that much more difficult. And yet, as voters from Texas to Wisconsin to Michigan have demonstrated, public education remains at the very core of Americans hopes for their children and their communities. Democrats would do well to listen to them.
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Posted: at 7:02 pm
A federal judge on Thursday gave House Democrats one week to figure out how they want to move forward in their lawsuit to obtain President TrumpDonald John TrumpAs Biden surges, GOP Ukraine probe moves to the forefront Republicans, rooting for Sanders, see Biden wins as setback Trump says Biden Ukraine dealings will be a 'major' campaign issue MOREs tax returns from the administration.
Judge Trevor McFadden, a federal district court judge in Washington, D.C., appointed by Trump, held a hearing in the tax return case following a ruling in another major case that touched on some of the same legal questions.
McFadden's hearing came less than one week after a three-judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in a separate lawsuit ruled that House Democrats cannot sue to enforce a subpoena of former White House Counsel Don McGahn. The ruling said federal courts cant resolve disputes between the executive and legislative branches.
McFadden had put the tax return case on hold until a ruling was issued in the McGahn case.
House Democrats are seeking Trump's returns both under a subpoena from House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealTrump officials pressed on economic response to coronavirus Mnuchin: Trump to prioritize infrastructure in any coronavirus stimulus package Seniors, businesses grapple with landmark retirement law MORE (D-Mass.) and through a provision under the federal tax code.
During Thursdays hearing, the Houses lawyers argued that the D.C. Circuit ruled incorrectly in the McGahn case and that they are planning to ask the full D.C. Circuit to rehear that case.
House lawyersalso said that, at a minimum, thepart of their lawsuit relying on the tax code provision could proceed.
McFadden said hes not inclined to handle the case on a piecemeal basis, and said that it would be of interest to him if the House wanted to file an amended complaint that just includes the claims relating to the tax-code provision.
The Houses lawyers said they need time to confer with their client about how they wanted to proceed on their subpoena-enforcement claim.
In the tax return case, the Trump administration is arguing the case should be dismissed because the federal courts cant take a side in the dispute.Lawyers for the administration argued the ruling in the McGahn case requires McFadden to dismiss the entirely of the Houses tax return lawsuit. The administration also argued that if the tax return case is put on hold while the full D.C. Circuit reviews the case, it should be stayed until the Supreme Court rules.
McFadden asked the Houses lawyers and the Trump administrations lawyers to submit a joint status report in one week.
The Ways and Means Committee had filed the tax return lawsuit against the Treasury Department and IRS in July, after the agencies rejected Neals requests and subpoenas for six years of Trumps federal tax filings and related IRS audit papers. In September, the administration and Trumps personal lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that the House lacks standing to sue.
Democrats have said that the law is clear that they can obtain Trumps tax returns, because a section of the federal tax code states that the Treasury secretary shall furnish tax returns requested by the chairs of Congresss tax committees. They have said they want to see Trumps tax returns because they are considering legislative proposals and conducting oversight about how the IRS audits presidents.
But the administration argues that Democrats lack a legitimate legislative purpose for the tax returns. They argue that Democrats stated purpose for the documents is pretextual and their real reason for wanting the documents is to expose the tax information of a political rival.
Trump is the first president in decades who hasnt made any of his tax returns public. He has said he wont release them while hes under audit, but the IRS has said that audits dont prevent people from making public their own tax information.
House Democrats lawsuit against the administration is one of several lawsuits related to Trumps financial records. Later this month, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in cases in which Trumps personal lawyers have sued to block subpoenas for the presidents financial records that were issued by House Democrats and the Manhattan District Attorneys office to Trumps accounting firm and banks.
Posted: at 7:02 pm
As the number of coronavirus cases begins to swell in the United States, conservative media outlets have been dedicating hours of airtime to slamming Democrats and mainstream media outlets such as the New York Times and CNN for being critical of Donald Trump and his response to the coronavirus.
For days, Trumps allies in right-wing media have defended the president and his response to coronavirus, supporting the administrations narrative that Democrats are using the coronavirus to further their own political agenda by purposefully exaggerating the severity of coronavirus just to blame Trump for it.
Peter Hegseth, a co-host of Fox & Friends Weekends, admonished Democrats criticism, saying: Theyre rooting for the coronavirus to spread. Theyre rooting for it to grow. Theyre rooting for the problem to get worse.
Theyre probably jumping for joy, Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt said about the Democrats reaction to stock markets dropping.
Fox News has brought on Trumps allies as guests, showering them with sympathy over the criticism they are getting over coronavirus.
On Laura Ingrahams show, the Fox News host similarly rebuked the media for using coronavirus to smear the administration in a number of ways.
Such colossal nonsense, said guest Alex Azar, secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services, in agreement.
Conservative pundit Sean Hannity brought on Donald Trump Jr, the presidents son, to help emphasize that Trump as president is effectively mitigating a potential outbreak in the US. How many thousands of Americans didnt contract this virus? Hannity asked Donald Trump Jr.
Well, many, Donald Trump Jr responded. Theres no way we wouldnt have thousands of more people that have contracted this [without Trump].
Around 100 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the US and there have been six deaths, all in Washington state. The World Health Organization has confirmed nearly 90,000 cases, the vast majority in China, and more than 3,000 deaths.
Coronavirus, or Covid-19, is a respiratory illness with symptoms similar to flu. Most who contract it recover but it can develop into pneumonia-like symptoms and the elderly and those with health problems are at particular risk.
Other guests that Fox have brought over the past week have blasted Democrats and the media for criticizing Trump.
Gayle Trotter, a conservative columnist, said it was outrageous that Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank has not taken down a tweet that read Remember this moment: Trump, in South Carolina, just called the coronavirus a hoax. Milbank was referring to Trump saying at a rally that Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus this is their new hoax.
President Trump has said this a serious matter, and hes not getting press coverage for that, Trotter said on Fox News.
Liberal MSNBC host Chris Hayes said: Really fascinating to watch rightwing media wrestle with coronavirus. The reactionary instinct is to fearmonger about diseased foreigners, but that might hurt Trump, so theyre trying to tamp down those fears or spin some anti-Trump conspiracy.
Tensions between Democrats and Republicans around the US response to coronavirus escalated last week when Donald Trump announced that his administration would be digging up $2.5bn to respond to a potential outbreak and putting vice-president Mike Pence in charge of the US response to the illness.
Democrats have been vocal about their criticism of the funding, saying Trumps requested funding is not enough. Democrats have also said that putting Pence at the front of the fight against coronavirus shows that the White House is not taking it seriously.
In defending his father against criticism from the media, Donald Trump Jr went so far as to say on Fox News that Democrats seemingly hope that it comes here and kills millions of people so they can end Donald Trumps streak of winning.
In a tense exchange with NBCs Chuck Todd, Pence said that Donald Trump Jrs comment was necessary pushback. When you see voices from our side pushing back on outrageous and irresponsible rhetoric on the other side, I think thats important, he told Todd.
Do you think this rhetoric from your side helps? Todd asked.
I never begrudge people responding to unwarranted, unjustified attacks, Pence said.
In the process of their defense, Trumps allies try to assure their audiences that any panic over coronavirus in the United States is largely unnecessary.
In an earlier segment last week, Hannity mocked Democrat and the medias response to coronavirus: Tonight I can absolutely report the sky is falling. We are all doomed. The end is near. The apocalypse is imminent, and you are going to all die. All of you in the next 48 hours, and its all President Trumps fault.
Conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh said the coronavirus is the common cold, folks after saying the illness is being weaponized as yet another element to bring down Donald Trump.
Joel Pollak, an editor at Breitbart wrote a column titled Five Reasons to Stop Freaking Out About Coronavirus, where he wrote that coronavirus is a familiar illness, and not as bad as others.
Instead, coronavirus is an info-demic, a panic caused by the spread of partial and often misleading information about a health risk, sometimes deliberately, Pollack wrote.
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Posted: at 7:02 pm
Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate billionaire activist Tom Steyer speaks at the Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidates debate in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S., Feb 7, 2020.
Brian Snyder | Reuters
Billionaire Tom Steyer, an early proponent of impeaching President Donald Trump, has dropped out of the Democratic presidential primary race.
"Honestly, I can't see a path where I can win the presidency," Steyer told supporters Saturday night, while pledging to continue working on his pet issues, including climate change and racial inequality.
He also said he would use his vast resources to support the eventual Democratic presidential nominee and other party candidates in the general election this November.
"Every Democrat is a million times better than Trump. Trump is a disaster," Steyer said. "So of course I'll be working on that."
He failed to reach the 15% viability level to win delegates in Saturday's contest in South Carolina, where he had spent more than $20 million, according to an NBC News projection. Former Vice President Joe Biden won the primary in the Palmetto State by a huge margin, while Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is considered the race's front-runner, came in second.
With more than 50% of the vote in, Steyer had scored nearly 12% of the vote in South Carolina.
He stumped and spent heavily in the early primary and caucus states of Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, as well, but those efforts did not help him crack the top echelon of contenders.
By the end of January, Steyer had spent$253.7 million on his campaign, according to a Federal Election Commission filing.
While he qualified for several debates, he struggled to get beyond 2% in most national polls. During the South Carolina debate earlier in the week, he had to fend off attacks from rivals, particularly Biden, about his past investments in the coal and private prison industries.
Steyer ran on what he described as the five rights; health care, an equal vote, clean air, an education and a living wage.
The former hedge fund manager was a key financier for Democrats running for congress during the 2018 congressional midterms.
Steyer, along with fellow billionaire Mike Bloomberg, combined to spend hundred of millions on Democratic candidates. That cycle, the Democrats flipped the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming the majority.
Since then, Democrats impeached Trump, which Steyer had been calling for since the 2016 election, and Bloomberg entered the race.
Posted: at 7:02 pm
Hillary Clintontook a not-so-subtle swipe at one of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates on Wednesdays broadcast of The Tonight Show.
Host Jimmy Fallon got the 2016 Democratic nominee to delve into his Bag of Secrets, pull out cards with names of the contenders (past and present) on them and reveal her thoughts about each person, without saying who it is.
Clinton was overwhelmingly positive when it came to commenting on most of the candidates. But after looking at one particular card, she tossed it aside eliciting a stunned response from Fallon and his audience.
Social media users placed bets on Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) or billionaire media mogul Michael Bloomberg being the subject of Clintons scorn.
Clinton on Tuesday said she has no plans to endorse any candidate.
In another part of the interview with Fallon, she heaped praise on former Vice President Joe Biden.
He is such the opposite of what we currently have in the White House, Clinton said, adding: He knows what needs to be done, he can repair the damage that he would be inheriting, so I think that is what was going on in peoples minds.
Check out the clips above and below:
And see Fallons impressions of Biden and Sanders here:
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Posted: at 7:02 pm
Self-proclaimed democratic socialist Bernie Sanders is one of three candidates still vying for his partys presidential nomination.
When the Vermont senator calls himself a democratic socialist, he refers to Franklin D. Roosevelts philosophy that the government should take responsibility for the health, well-being and security of American citizens, says Barnard College political science professor Sheri Berman.
This means democratic socialists in the U.S. support a generous welfare state which today includes policies like universal health care and free college education, she says.
But when Sanders critics call him a socialist, they mean something quite different. President Trump and other Republicans often use the word socialism as a slur, conflating it with communism.
During Franklin Roosevelts presidency, socialism was often linked to Soviet Union policies. Now, Berman says the theory is associated with countries like Venezuela and North Korea where the government also controls the economy and doesnt allow its citizens political freedom.
For Republicans, both then and now, socialism is something much scarier, she says. We're talking about two very, very different things but oftentimes using the same term.
Sanders often talks about Scandanavian countries like Denmark as a model of democratic socialism. These countries have long-standing democratic socialist parties and some consider themselves a social democracy, she says.
In Europe, the presence of a social democratic party helps citizens better define the term and understand what policies social democrats stand for, but in America, its less clear, she says.
Because we've never had a party that has called itself social democratic or democratic socialist, the term is much more difficult to pin down, she says.
Roosevelts New Deal is the closest thing to a social-democratic movement or policy in the U.S., she says. Roosevelt put policies in place to protect both capitalism and democracy, which is more comparable to Elizabeth Warrens platform than Sanderss call for revolution, she says.
He sought to mitigate capitalisms negative effects out of fear that if they grew too severe, citizens would lash out against both capitalism and democratic governments for not being able to deal with those consequences, she says.
But Roosevelt avoided the socialist label because he understood the terms negative resonance in the U.S., Berman says. Though he never called himself a socialist, his policies echoed what social democrats were advocating for in parts of Europe during the 1930s.
Europes democratic socialists grew out of Marxism, she says, as did communism. But after the 19th century, the two ideologies grew in different directions regarding democracy.
Communists didnt believe in democracy, free markets or private property, while social democrats were some of the strongest advocates for democracy in Europe, she says.
Social democrats accepted capitalism, she says, but knew the government needed to protect citizens from its negative downsides for this economic system to work.
Today in the U.S., Berman says the support for Sanders and the idea of democratic socialism stems from the 2008 financial crisis and everything that succeeded it including growing income inequality, declining social mobility and increased geographic divides particularly between young people based on whether they could afford college.
Americans who feel insecure and disaffected are gravitating toward socialist ideas since most capitalist critiques of the 19th century emerged from socialism, she says.
Critiques of capitalism, not surprisingly, tend to arise at times when significant numbers of people feel the system is not working for them, she says.
On the difference between the terms liberal and progressive
That's a hard question to answer separate from context. In this country, liberal and progressive are often used interchangeably. Although in this election cycle, progressive has been stressed much more than liberal, simply because I think a lot of people think of liberal now as somehow tainted with the liberal globalized order in Europe. Of course, liberal has a different connotation than in the United States. It's much more hooked up with or linked to a classical liberal tradition, one that actually favors things like free trade, but also protection of individual rights and things of that nature. So a lot of these terms have been used for so long and in so many different contexts that it is often hard to pin them down.
We're seeing [populism] again come back in full force in this election cycle, not only because Trump is often referred to [as] a populous, but growing numbers of people feel like there are some aspects of Sanders' appeal that should be characterized as populist. And by that, they generally mean not just a strong anti-establishment message, but a sort of sense that, you know, the polity or society is divided into good and bad, that there's some kind of elite that is blocking somehow the sort of needs and demands of the masses from being heard, that there is some kind of evil cabal. Again, that's kind of working behind the scenes to kind of undermine democracy. So there are some aspects of that that we can see in the Sanders campaign a little bit. We can certainly see it in Trump's rhetoric and appeal, and we see it in a wide variety of parties, mostly on the right in Europe and also other parts of the world.
On her belief that Warren is a progressive but not a democratic socialist or a liberal
I think that that's really where she's trying to position herself as the kind of, you know, person at the crosscurrents of all of these different trends and debates that are going on within the Democratic Party. Now, look, she has made very clear that actually in some ways she's closer to what Roosevelt said and did because she claims she's a capitalist and that the incredible number of policy proposals that she's put forward are not designed to so much transform the system from capitalists to something else, but rather to sort of save it from itself to kind of correct all of the negative consequences that it's had.
Julia Corcoranproduced and edited this interview for broadcast withKathleen McKenna.Allison Haganadapted it for the web.
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Suspect accused of switching Lake County voter registrations from Democratic to Republican – Orlando Weekly
Posted: at 7:02 pm
Some registered Democratic voters in Lake County received party-change notifications last week, despite never having switched their party registration. When the confused Democrats called the county's election office to complain, according to Lake County Supervisor of Elections Alan Hays, his office responded immediately.
"My office became aware of a potential problem last week when several voters contacted our office after receiving new Voter Information Cards indicating their party affiliation had been changed from Democrat to Republican, Hays' office said in a statement.
In a press conference Wednesday, Hays said his office has found 119 falsified applications so far. The accusations and tampered registrations come just as Lake County begins early voting on Thursday.
The alleged fraud involves creating new registrations and changes to existing voters, often switching party affiliation from Democratic or "no party affiliation" (NPA)to Republican.Hays, who estimated some 30 registrations where changed, said none of the uncovered altered registrations were switched from Republican or NPA (no party affiliation) to Democratic.
"It would appear that all of them at this time that we're familiar with were moved to Republican registration or that they were not tinkered with at all," said Hays.
Hays said Lake County residents can review their voter information at the county elections website lakevotes.com, and are advised to call 352-343-9735
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