Fiscal Policy For The COVID-19 Outbreak

The internet is full of ideas for dealing with the economic problems associated with the outbreak of COVID-19. As usual, the first suggestions are for tax cuts to protect the corporations facing problems. I assume tax cuts for business entities like the airlines are the logical outcome of my general rule that the point of neoliberal caitalism is to protect the interests of capitalists. But tax cuts are the only bipartisan policies possible, because Republicans only care about tax cuts and have no interest in sound policy; while Democrats are happy to oblige their donor class, and wring their hands about the mean Republicans who won’t let them do anything for their voters. Another widespread ideas is a payroll tax cut; that would benefit people who keep their jobs in the downturn.

Good policy starts with the identification of the problem. At a first approximation, I think the problem involves the following:

1. Sick people. They require medical care, and many can’t afford it, even if it’s available, and even if they have insurance.

2. Unemployment. There will be an uptick in unemployment. Maybe employers close down, maybe business is slower, maybe people don’t want to be out in public and around possible vectors of the illness.

3. Shortages of goods. This will include many of the goods we get from China, but it will also include medical supplies and equipment, and drugs. There will be spot shortages of other goods.

Tax cuts aren’t going to address those problems. Sick people don’t have income, and tax cuts won’t matter to them. Unemployed people won’t have income either. Increasing the amount of money in the hands of consumers and businesses will only create inflation in goods in short supply if the money is spent. Using the money to pay down debt will stabilize some companies and people, but any money used to buy stocks or bonds will not stimulate anything except the wallets of Wall Streeters. I doubt that people will increase their spending on restaurants or movies or other public activities because of fear of contagion even if they have more money from the tax cuts.

The thing that will work is direct government spending on infrastructure. It puts the unemployed back to work. It won’t increase prices for goods that are not in short supply. For goods in short supply, increases in prices will encourage businesses to expand to supply the new needs. Hopefully this will include mostly resources we have here in the US, or can set up here in reasonably short order. We don’t need vast amounts of plastic crap, more computers or smart phones, and other tech goods. What we need are roads, efficient electrical transmission lines, more solar power, better internet service, and other basic electronics that rely mostly on simple sturdy chips. We need new schools, new state and local agencies for a variety of purposes, more buses and subways and light rail, more affordable housing especially in urban areas, more research facilities, more drug manufacturers and a long list of things I don’t know about.

This is a public crisis. Therefore we have a social responsibility to pay for all medical treatment for infected people, all testing, and all necessary medicines. No one should be bankrupted or financially hurt by the cost of treatment of COVID-19. Also we should build public facilities to provide that treatment.

But alone, this isn’t enough. If people use the income from these jobs to bid up the prices of consumer goods in short supply, we will see an increase in inflation. Therefore the goal is to get people to pay down debt and to save the extra income for the future. This should be relatively easy. The fear induced by this crisis should make it obvious that things are going to change, and conservative finances are the best protection for all of us.

One more thing. I don’t believe in pay-fors as a general rule. But the fact is that almost all politicians either actually do believe or pretend to believe in them. This is a great time to demand higher taxes on the 1%, not because we need the cash, but to reduce their obscene domination of our politics (I’m looking at you Michael Bloomberg). Raise taxes on the rich to cover the costs of at least a portion of the expenditures I have described. That means at least the amount of payroll tax cuts, medical treatment for infected people, increased research into viral diseases, vaccines, and production of vaccines, and any additional cuts for corporations and other business entities.

So there’s my take. Please treat this as an open thread on these issues.

69 replies
  1. P J Evans says:

    The woman living upstairs from me works for a travel agency that books tours – she does the European stuff, mostly. (In fact, she was supposed to be in Germany last week but didn’t go.)

    • phil says:

      For starters, can we cover medical treatment and pay working people a replacement for lost income? Lots of folks just scrape by so an extra 10k couldn’t hurt. That payment could amount to about 50 billion. Cutting payroll taxes is imperfect. It only helps if you are working and weakens the social security trust fund.

      [Welcome to emptywheel. Please use a more differentiated username when you comment next as we have several community members named “Phil” or a variant. Thanks. /~Rayne]

      • Rugger9 says:

        The SSI cut will lead to the inevitable call for entitlement reform as well. Even Warren Buffett knows it is stupid to cap the FICA tax that funds Social Security (which makes it insurance, not an “entitlement”) at some arbitrary number the uber rich roll past in a day.

        Given how the Palace does things I have no doubt this is the game plan, and it is something the GOP has done in every place they took control (KS, WI, PA, etc.). Now, will Biden go along with it? He’s been open to cutting SocSec to “save” it in the past, and has mused about having a GOP Veep (an unforced error and no way the convention votes for that). Although, I’d like to know which current GOP person with enough gravitas he thinks will be unifying the country, because I can’t think of one. All of the otherwise rational GOP types are purged out and the remainder are full MAGA, and this is why: follow the money.

        The supply chain will also include steel for bridges and stuff since the PRC has been dumping steel for years but we could start ramping our nation’s production back up.

  2. BobCon says:

    We’ll have to figure out childcare. A lot of schools and daycare centers will close, and working parents are going to be in a jam. Or even worse, you’ll see parents hospitalized with no care arranged for their kids.

    I suspect some kind of credit piggybacking off the child tax credit might be the easiest way — just send everyone who has already claimed it for this year a chunk of cash. And don’t ask for any kind of documentation — If people have an open daycare center and decide to spend it on shoes or fixing the car, that’s OK too. I think on balance it will be applied to pressing needs and there is no point in slowing it down.

    The child tax credit is already defined as refundable, meaning it gets paid out even if someone has a low income and doesn’t pay income taxes, and it is means tested, so it won’t go to the wealthiest who don’t need it.

  3. Raven Eye says:

    Plastic “stuff” from China is part of our medical supply chain and appears to be very vulnerable to production irregularities…All the stuff that now ends up as single use compressible medical waste instead of items that used to be washed/cleaned/sterilized.

    • Ed Walker says:

      Do you know if we have the capacity to manufacture this material here? Either in plastic or multi-use?

      • Raven Eye says:

        Typically, when production capacity is off-shored, the domestic capability is either sold off, or scrapped. I don’t know what the historical production and import data is for the off-shored medical supplies (consumables) or DME (durable medical equipment).

        — I have a diabetic cat; the insulin pen (3 mL) comes from Germany, and the disposable needles come from China.
        — I use 5 mil nitrile examination gloves around the house — the same as are used for medical purposes — and I’ve never seen a box that didn’t come from China.

        For a snapshot, take a look at:

    • P J Evans says:

      Plastic gets used for stuff they’d prefer to not break, like tubing and IV bags. That’s one unfortunate property of glass. (A lot of people have allergies to latex. That’s another problem.)

  4. Nehoa says:

    We are facing a supply shock rather than a demand shock. I would re-frame your suggestion to expand infrastructure spending to focus on those elements that will need attention in a supply shock scenario. Money to fix bridges won’t help if the workers are sick or quarantined, or can’t get cement.
    Direct income to the sick and unemployed, subsidization of healthcare costs, and debt relief for consumers and small businesses will be needed. Where you could have “infrastructure” is in support for medical service providers, protection of supply chains for critical supplies such as food, fuel, and medical supplies, and re-deployment of labor and housing facilities to support the sick and quarantined.
    Rather than having the Federal Reserve lower interest rates and improve liquidity, Congress will need to take action on the items listed above as fiscal issues. The Fed may be needed to help re-structure the banking/shadow banking system for debt relief efforts, but that would be in response to the other actions.

    • P J Evans says:

      This is the kind of thing that the rich should be paying taxes for – they benefit from them.

    • Katherine M Williams says:

      Build hospitals, or buy hotels & such and convert them to hospitals, dedicated to just treating the COVID-19. Mandate US manufacturers of medical supplies (there are still a few) increase their output, stop any price gouging and hoarding. Build new facilities for making medical supplies. Pay close attention to the food chain, and supplies of other necessities such as toilet paper.

      Those would stimulate the economy, give people a bit of confidence in the government, and probably boost Wall Street prices.

      Instead, it’ll be tax breaks for the rich.

    • Philip Webster says:

      Yes, supply shock not a fiscal stimulus or tax breaks. Helping people most vulnerable rather than bailing out hoteliers (the Rentier class).
      South Korea seems to be flattening out and like China they are doing massive TESTING. MASSIVE. We are doing dick all with idiots at the helm pushing false narratives like when it warms up the virus will die..Total BS. Doesn’t matter what the temp is within the human range of life.

  5. orionATL says:

    ed walker brought a smile to my face with his opening about tax cuts. he could not have been more on target; if you are a thinking republican politician a tax cut would surely be your first choice.


    – tax cuts or tax credits that show up at the end of the year are not helpful with an economy constipated by a sudden serious drop in demand.

    – tax cuts that show up immediamente in paychecks only help those who can collect a paycheck which excludes the working but seriously ill.

    – the rare “tax holiday” is an option, but again, no help to the working but ill.

    – the gluttinous tax reduction bill of 2017 (“tax reductions and jobs”, don’t you know😄) has essentially destroyed the capacity of the federal government to operate with flexibility in a special crisis of the sort that might arise in the next two months.

    – this could produce a great time (after november) for republican politicians to attack the security net developed by this society over decades for their fellow citizens even more viciously than reducing food stamps, demanding work tomreceive medicaid, and refusing to give illlegal immigrants even basic health care that is in the common interest thru creating herd immunity.

    • Raven Eye says:

      “…demanding work to receive medicaid, and refusing to give illegal immigrants even basic health care that is in the common interest thru creating herd immunity.”

      You want to look those people straight in the eye and say one word: “Epidemiology”.

    • PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

      That was my first thought.. how the hell will tax cuts in any way help anyone at or under the median income in the next three months? We’re going to see massive impacts just like every other country closer to the epicenter.

      The solutions or mitigations are obvious and staring all pols in the face – provide healthcare and boost unemployment entitlements, mandatory sick leave without fear of being fired, child care. They are crossing their eyes very hard to pretend to avoid seeing it.

    • jamie mack says:

      With the possibility of hundreds of thousands of deaths due to CoVID-19 in the coming year, it’s time that we start thinking about the survivors.
      Obviously, the situation calls for a cut in the estate tax.

      • orionATL says:

        for jamie mack.



        and then throwing their calculated, deceitful words about death panels back on the mofo’s, we may describe republican tax proposals as “death taxes” or better “take advantage of the plague”taxes .

  6. paulpfixion says:

    A small bandaid, but perhaps a useful one. Just had the thought that perhaps if Congress tied a corporate tax cut directly to a corporations provision of sick days that R’s might agree. Kind of like a cash for clunkers program, the size of the tax cut would need to be directly related to the cost of sick days.

    • Katherine M Williams says:

      Imagine if Trump & Congress passed legislating mandating that everyone would be eligible for Medicaid, anyone over the age 50 for Medicare, and that the Fed Gov would pick up the bill.

      If efficiently enacted, Trump would be guaranteed re-election. Too bad he is surrounded by fools and incompetents.

  7. Stephen Calhoun says:

    The vendor who prints my art specializes in trade show signage. Cancellations are racking their industry over the last two weeks. The local art world runs on sociability; plus, the artistic community here is largely made up of artists over the age of 50. I’ll be speaking with a curator today about my opening scheduled for March 20 in Cleveland Heights. Our community is on the cusp of some crisis-driven ‘rearranging.’

    (My family is in Cuyahoga County, and our house is a mile from the non-profit that has shuttered for two weeks because at least one of the three Ohio COVID19 cases confirmed yesterday worked there.)

    I’m inexpert about economics, but it seems a contraction of household income combined with ongoing precarity would not favor a supply-side regimen at all.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Any aid should be direct to consumer. Fuggedabout tax credits. They work best for the already well-to-do. Average people need cash. They recycle it virtually the minute they get it, for rent, food, utilities, basic clothing, debt repayment. That immediately benefits what is still a consumer-driven economy, which makes those direct subsidies vitally important, much more so than payments or credits to industry.

    The more immediate issue, though, is adequate and accurate testing and health care. The “market” costs for that are prohibitive, made worse by price gouging. Without aid, people will be forced to congregate and work, spreading the virus wider and deeper, reaching the most vulnerable faster.

    Those actions are anathema to neoliberals, so Congress will have to create enormous pressure for them, aided by enormous pressure coming from constituents. The White House will fight it, as it will any attempt to take action, because it inevitably makes Trump look like the gross incompetent he is. That’s too bad.

    • BobCon says:

      It’s important to note that there are two tyypes of tax credits — refundable and nonrefundable.

      Nonrefundable credits can only reduce tax obligations and stop when tax owed is zero. If you owe $1000 in income taxes and get a $3000 nonrefundable credit, your actual benefit is only $1000.

      Refundable tax credits often actually result in net payments to individuals — a couple might owe $1000 in taxes but qualify for a $3000 credit, which results in not just the tax bill being reduced to zero, but a $2000 check from the IRS.

      The Earned Income Tax Credit is the biggest example, resulting in tens of billions in transfers to low income people.

      A big advantage to recipients is that it’s relatively easy to obtain — the application is on the regular tax form and much simpler than typical applications for SNAP and Medicaid.

      It’s also straightforward for the IRS to administer, and in theory an expansion of the EITC or just a retroactive application of a new refundable credit would just mean sending a check to everyone with a certain AGI. The IRS has almost everyone’s information already, meaning only a small percentage would need to apply.

      Conservatives, of course, hate this kind of thing. They want complicated means tests, monitoring, and complex applications. They hate tax code changes which flow to people at the lower end of the scale. So we could well see credits which overwhelmingly flow to the usual suspects. But it doesn’t have to be that way if Democrats actually fought on the issue.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Good points. However it works, it has to reach the gig economy and people with little income. It should be a supplemental return, so that it can be filed without waiting for the end of a tax period. That means a bigger outreach than this administration would normally do – and increasing the IRS’s budget, which this administration has routinely cut.

        It also means immediately addressing the fraud perpetrated by the tax preparation industry. It touts “free” preparation services, as mandated by the IRS for low-income filers, but routinely redirects them to their not free prep service. The simplest fix might be for the IRS to provide that free service itself and cut out the abusive middle man, which it should have done from the get go.

        • BobCon says:

          In an ideal world, the IRS will just send out a letter asking people to validate the info they have on file, and then send out the check.

          I recognize that the GOP wants to funnel billions to the shale oil industry instead, so I’m not holding my breath that any sensible policies will happen.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          How like the Don to give away billions of someone else’s money to one of the most polluting and climate destroying industries on the planet. He’s also the last guy on earth who would want to make the IRS better resourced, better functioning, or more well-liked.

  9. Peterr says:

    The payroll tax being floated is problematic on several levels. As Ed noted, cutting a payroll tax gives no benefit to someone with no paycheck. The other, less obvious issue, is that a payroll tax cut is not an influx of cash — it’s basically a cut to your eventual Social Security check. By telling folks “congrats – you don’t have to pay your payroll tax for the next 6 months!” what you are really saying is “You won’t be putting money into social security for the next 6 months, so your eventual retirement payments will be smaller.”

    It might be necessary, but make no mistake: it’s just as damaging in the long run as withdrawing money from your 401k for current expenses.

  10. orionATL says:

    i’ll leave whether any ecomomic crisis will be a demand or a supply crisis to economists to noodle and model, but i want to raise the possible impact of two matters abnormal to any ordinary economic analysis: the impact of extensive home isolation of the population for some extended time period, and the impact of rolling illness of 2-4% (depends on the actual rate of infection once we can establish that) of the population sweeping across the nation for months. i’d be interested to know if economists think either of these could be a large factor in creating a demand crisis, i.e., ain’t nobody spending enough money compared to normal.

    • PieIsDamnGood says:

      It’s already a demand crisis, the only question is how many sectors it covers and how long it lasts. If it stayed in China it may have remained a supply crisis for our domestic economy. Although you can’t ignore the impact of a Chinese demand crisis on us.

      It’s basically always both, unless there’s a very unique situation (e.g. OPEC).

  11. billdm says:

    an idea percolating in my head — instead of medicare (or medicaid) for all, how about medicare (and paid sick leave) for anyone who has the Covid19 virus, or is a caregiver for a person with the virus, or does the responsbile thing of self-quarantine if they suspect they have the virus. These basic entitlements granted at least on a temporary basis with minimal red tape,

  12. Pete T says:

    My thoughts…the US Government through the States immediately funds local help centers that would provide food, medicine, health care including COVID-19 testing, and maybe isolation centers.

    Anything that has to trickle down through tax relief is too late and not equitably distributed. And no bailing out of big corporations – they won’t keep their doors open as demand craters – they will lay off.

    Deductible paid for for hospitalization for any reason.

    Do not – should not – be co-located.

    Goods and services need to be delivered immediately to people who are affected directly by COVD-19 and due to collateral due to COVID-19.

    Pay Uber eats to deliver food to quarantined people.

  13. Mosswings says:

    infrastructure spending is a strategic move. In a crisis, the infrastructure spending that is useful is mostly the spending that you’ve already done to prepare for the crisis. On the other hand, there is a certain type of infrastructure spending that is tactically beneficial, and Washington state has been doing this for several weeks now. They are already planning for what this outbreak will look like in the state months from now, when the virus will have doubled its infections 7 times over.

    This basically involves for the COVID-19 crisis expanding the testing capacity across the State to handle thousands of tests per day, developing and producing sufficient test kits, expanding surge capacity of the medical facilities in the state (in part by deferring scheduled elective surgeries, in part by repurposing existing facilities into social isolation facilities), establishing debarkation testing protocols. Of course, Washington enjoys a well-established and sophisticated research and technology infrastructure that can be mobilized quickly, plus a wealthy economy.

    Where the national government can help is in providing living continuance assurances to affected individuals – income continuation, subsidized testing, emergency review of public health systems, clear and transparent communication and crisis management.

    I’m all for Rahm Emanuel’s “never waste a good crisis”, but not for using it as an excuse for a tax cut. Or a tangential infrastructure project that won’t be finished until long after this virus is. On the other hand, mobilizing the government and our society to pay attention to the need for continuing support of effective public health and safety nets should start NOW.

    I love Jim White’s closing words in his recent post here:

    When hospitals are completely overwhelmed, there will be no Galt’s Gulch where heroes can wait out the outbreak. If we really see 20, 30 or even more than 50% of the global population being infected, the concept of isolation breaks down. No heroic action can be taken, because every single individual will be at risk for infection.

    This impotence against the virus is because public health, in the end, is a social exercise. Will the outbreak become the discontinuity needed to convince the US to join the rest of the civilized world in making health care a social effort rather than a perk reserved for the very rich? If this doesn’t do it, it’s hard to imagine how it will ever happen.

    • Ed Walker says:

      I don’t disagree that infrastructure is slow off the mark. But some projects can be moved up to do almost immediately. Others need planning. That puts people to work also, and a lot of it can be done remotely. Also, the knowledge that there is work in the future encourages businesses not to lay off people.

  14. Rugger9 says:

    This also assumes no market manipulations, but as we know the unfettered capitalists are not going to play nice all the time. Gouging is already going on. The Uber, Lyft and taxi drivers, etc. are going to need some more to account for the risks they have to face to do their work. So, this is where the government has to step up and ensure the safety of the population regardless of status or ability to pay.

    OT but important: it seems the market drop in oil prices may not be all it seems to be, and to no one’s surprise Putin and MBS are involved in the looting of the USA, and will be willing to pick up the fracking companies at 50% off list price, so to speak.

    • Rayne says:

      The problem with Juan Cole’s take is that he lumps the Saudis and Putin into the same team. The Saudis drove the price crash as an attack on Putin because he didn’t want to cooperate with Saudis+OPEC to cut production. In short, there are +3 teams playing this game with unity between any two at any time possible and fleeting.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if Saudis crashed the price after conferring with the largest players in US first to see how long they could withstand a flood of oil. The buyers entering the US fracking business market may be US+Saudi first.

      And we already know Putin was extremely unhappy when Iran’s oil supply reentered the market late in 2014, trashing anticipated revenues by hundreds of billions when supply swamped demand.

      • Philip Webster says:

        It’s simpler than that, Rayne. The Saudis know they have stranded assets at risk and they are just dumping what they can. They still can make money at very low prices; guess who taught them how to produce?
        The stupid frackers do not know how to make money; they were gambling on very high prices to succeed. There are a lot of oil folks holding the bag here and they are not gonna like eating it. Too bad, fockers. Time’s up.

    • orionATL says:

      rugger9 –

      thanks for bringing juan cole here. i appreciate his take on things.

      when i first heard about this warfare of the scimitars, my thought was “thank god for small favors.” at least a price war involving oil, if it lasted long enough, would help the world and the u. s. deal with the potentially enormous negative economic impact of a pandemic. oil is perhaps the major raw commodity used in the world’s economies. not only are its derivatives used to power ships, trains, planes, and cars, but also serve as plastics feedstock and in fertilizer, a critical and expensive basic item in farming in less developed countries.

      cole’s commentary revealed even more interesting things

      – that the saudis produce oil at $3.00/barrel and sell it at as much as $70. talk about billionaires who are dangerous to our political life

      – that by comparison fracking costs as much as $60/barrel

      – most interesting, that the russians were concerned with not losing market share for a product they considered to have an additional life of only 15 years. one can hope. but the first arab oil embargo occurred in 1973, and oil is still being pumped out of the ground by hook or crack 50 years later. while fracking is currently being honored as having made us “independent” on oil once again, that has been a fool’s game for which we will pay collectively, as we always do, at some future time.

  15. Frank Probst says:

    Looks like the peons that went to CPAC are NOT happy about the fact that the CPAC elites are getting more information than they are about the identity and movements of Coronavirus Conservative, the man who was apparently a high-level CPAC attendee who has now tested positive for Coronavirus and is causing many of the elite CPAC attendees to go into self-quarantine.

    My thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time.

  16. Vicks says:

    Just start ruminating on this idea on the way to work this morning, I apologize for it’s rough state but I wanted to throw it out there for anyone that may think it’s worth spitballing.
    My question is, how could we temporarily shift healthy people that are laid off because of lack of work, into useful positions where either the demand for workers is way up because of needs created by the crises, or because of a sudden staff shortage due to sickness or quarentines.?
    I’m not saying that a flight attendant can replace a medical professional but they can sure as heck help take the load off and eliminate some of the stress by answering phones and processing large groups of people, a Lyft driver can use their vehicle to deliver supplies instead of people.
    A lot of people could end up working at a levels below their acquired skills, so it would need to be framed as patriotic to not be tapping your old (and struggling) company (and the government) for unemployment checks while at the same time help keep this country rolling.
    Rather than silly payroll cuts, our government can step in a make sure these people are automatically covered by the ACA. (getting healthy people enrolled could put and end to much of the Obamacare nonsense )
    It would require a skilled group of people to put together the data and find the right people to work as liaisons: If the company that needs these employees is in profit mode they will pay for the service, If it’s an industry that is vital but strapped needs the government needs to help fund it.
    Hell, now that I think about it, existing companies like should be all over this.
    I haven’t done much of anything to vet this idea so feel free to add subtract or poke holes in it,

      • Vicks says:

        “The American public made the CCC the most popular of all the new deal programs”
        Makes sense to me, spend taxpayer money on things that he country needs taken care of while directly benefitting those who have lost jobs, it’s a double win because they won’t file for unemployment.
        Generic things like tax cuts and lower interests rate will be wasted on people and organizations that don’t need it.
        As I mentioned above, people that lose their jobs will now be uninsured or paying full price to maintain their old employers plans via COBRA, I hope no one thinks it “too soon” to use this opportunity to shout loudly about why health care should be supported by taxpayer money and not business owners.

      • Vicks says:

        I’m superstitious, so I hate to put it in print, but I doubt some asshole in the Trump organization/campaign that hasn’t already formulated a vision of the perfect project for “patriotic” civilian workers. Flags flying, background music and all.
        I’m going to go take a shower now.

        • Rayne says:

          We have the old CCC adverts. Just need sprucing up, editing to add diverse workers since original CCC was for unemployed men.

        • Vicks says:

          Love it!
          It’s really a question of not just the government projects that have been put on the back burner, but the private industries and services that will be in high demand, health care is obvious, delivery, cleaning, special cleanups of potential hot spots, logistics for all of this, I’ll bet we can get product from China and people back at controlled work sites if protocols are developed.
          I am curious to know how our biggest college in the state was able to snap it’s fingers and tell students that classes will be online from now on, it seems to do that right, it requires expertise and (and some all nighters) that may not be just hanging around.
          If things need rationing I want people really good at that stuff to figure it out ahead of time and come up with a plan, this toilet paper thing in my neck of the woods is a perfect example of a crisis (I really was out at home AND at the office) created by idiots who need to get out of the way.
          I’m a sucker for looking for a window when a door closes and I see a chance to have Karma knock Trump on his ass, and a country uniting behind a problem that has only one path to a “solution” and that means everyone doing their civic duty and taking action to stop the spread of this virus.
          Also on my wish list is why government safety nets aren’t handouts, universal health care, and for frackers to realize the margins they are working at puts their stupid business models on full display so no one will invests in them anymore and they go away.

        • bmaz says:

          Heh, my wife just called to see if we had enough. I still am not sure why TP and water are the hoarding items, but we still have about 3/4 of a Costco pallet full of TP, so I reported that we should be fine.

          As to the water though, WTF? Do people think their taps are going to suddenly dry up? Or that the corona is going to flow through them? That one I really don’t get.

    • Pete T says:

      He keeps thinking about image and re-election. Time maybe for Rayne to post a “call to you Senators/Reps) topic to convey no socialism/bailouts for rich people and corporations.

      Why do we have to bail out shale oil producers abacuses MBS and Putin have a disagreement. Aren’t MBS and Putin Trump friends?

      And we have to deal with the COVID-19 situation exacerbated by Govt fumbling. Well, so should airlines and cruise lines. Any bailout given to them will NOT go to paid furloughs for employees. It never does.

      • Rayne says:

        Been back and forth about topics — it’s like trying to drink from a firehose. I’ll see what I can do about a post related to this but the situation is really fluid.

  17. BobCon says:

    This sure would be good time for Richard Neal and Pelosi to make up for hiding from the fight to investigate Trump’s taxes.

    Imagine how useful it would be right now to have a full picture of his finances to fight back against his plans for self serving sweetheart deals putting hotels and resorts at the front of the line for relief.

    • bmaz says:

      I think Judith Rogers got it right and urge people to read her majority opinion. Also think it is incredibly notable that Tom Griffith, a conservative but decent judge appointed by George W. Bush, went out of his way to not just join with Rogers to form the majority, but to also lob in a concurring opinion excoriating radical Trump appointee Neomi Rao’s bizarre and unhinged dissent. You don’t see that every day.

      For the record, Neomi Rao is not just an unhinged right wing zealot, she is only 46 years old. She is likely to be on the court for 35-40 more years. This is the garbage Trump is appointing and McConnell is glibly confirming.

      • Philip Webster says:

        It is a great read. I didn’t know about Rao. What is the matter with these people so blinded by Trump’s majesty? What a focking joke.
        I’m still only on Page 15 but it is great. What will Barr, the DOJ do? Shit a brick I hope at least.

    • harpie says:

      Just want to add this here: earlier today, Marcy retweeted Marty Lederman on this:
      8:13 AM · Mar 11, 2020

      In the Mazars case, Judge Rao adopted an argument–that the House lacks any power to investigate wrongdoing of *any* impeachable Executive officer unless it announces an “impeachment inquiry”–that would invalidate centuries of congressional practice & that was so extreme … [1]

      … & so unconvincing that neither Trump, nor the SG, nor any of the amici supporting Trump, have embraced it in the SCOTUS. Undeterred, in yesterday’s In re Grand Jury case Rao adopts an argument that DOJ itself didn’t raise & that DOJ concedes … [2] [THREAD]

    • orionATL says:

      thanks, harpie. as always, senator warren is way ahead of the curve.

      some interesting readings from a thomas edsall column in nytimes:


      “… One of the first papers to explore this phenomenon, “Understanding White Polarization in the 2016 Vote for President: The Sobering Role of Racism and Sexism,” by Brian Schaffner, a political scientist at Tufts, and Matthew MacWilliams and Tatishe Nteta, political scientists at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, was published in 2018 in the Political Science Quarterly…”

      yeah, yeah, i know. in the u.s. you are never supposed to use sexism or racism as explanatory variables. why is that i wonder?

  18. orionATL says:

    don’t go jumping out any windows, but something may not be quite right with this wonderful economy:

    “… All this suggests that major financial players are experiencing a cash crunch, and are selling whatever they can as a result. That would help explain the seeming contradiction of assets that should go up in value in a time of economic peril instead falling in value…”

    when it’s all about our president’s behavior that’s understandable, but when hints of financial instability start showing up that is a serious matter.

    is this a legitimate concern? i don’t know, but i’ll bet there are folks around who do.

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