👋 Away Message: Hi there! Matt is currently out on parental leave. He'll return August 30th-ish. More details can be found here. In the meantime, Joe (the voice of the newscast/podcast) will be publishing an abridged version of WTF Just Happened Today? every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. You can expect 5-7 news items covering a slightly wider range of political news in about two sentences each. We'll return to our regularly scheduled WTFJHT programming when Matt returns in late August.
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🔥 Daily Damage Report.
🌍 Global: Total confirmed cases ~2,700,000; Total deaths: ~187,000; Total recoveries: ~731,000. (Johns Hopkins University)
🇺🇸 U.S.: Total confirmed cases ~856,000; Total deaths: ~47,000; Total recoveries: ~78,000
💰 Markets: Dow 📈; S&P 500 📉; Nasdaq 📉
New York antibody study estimates 13.9% of residents have had the coronavirus. (CNBC)
💡 Insights and Analysis.
Rare thing for WTFJHT to share analysis and opinion articles, but it’s also important to gain perspective by contextualizing the news through a variety of viewpoints. So, here you go.
The risk of a US double-dip depression is real. Reopening states to boost the economy despite the scientific evidence will do more damage than good. (Financial Times)
There’s a growing possibility of a W-shaped economic recovery — and it’s scary. A resurgence of the virus or a spike in defaults and bankruptcies could lead to another painful economic downturn. (Washington Post)
Opening up the economy won’t save the economy. There’s best available evidence casts doubt on the idea that enough customers will return to make it possible for small businesses to stay viable without additional government assistance. (Vox)
Coronavirus will change the world permanently. Here’s how: A crisis on this scale can reorder society in dramatic ways, for better or worse. (Politico)
“Sadness” and disbelief from a world missing American leadership. The coronavirus pandemic is shaking bedrock assumptions about U.S. exceptionalism. This is perhaps the first global crisis in more than a century where no one is even looking for Washington to lead. (New York Times)
1/ More than 26 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits over the last five weeks – wiping out all of the job gains since the Great Recession. More than 4.4 million people filed for unemployment last week – down from more than 5.2 million the week before – which marks the fifth straight week that job losses were measured in the millions. Roughly 22 million jobs were created after the 2008 financial crisis. Economists predict that by summer the unemployment rate will be within range of the 25% peak recorded in 1933 during the Great Depression and that the U.S. GDP will shrink by around 6% this year. (Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Politico / NBC News / CNBC / Reuters / The Guardian)
- Battleground states that Trump won in 2016 are seeing higher-than-average layoffs amid the economic fallout from the coronavirus. (Politico)
2/ The House is prepared to pass a bipartisan $484 billion spending package to replenish two small business relief programs, fund hospitals, and expand testing. The measure is expected to be approved and sent to Trump for his signature tonight after the Senate cleared the legislation on Tuesday. [Editor’s note: The House is voting on the legislation as I type this. The blog will be updated upon final approval.] (Washignton Post / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNN)
The Small Business Administration issued new guidance to make it “unlikely” for publicly traded companies to access coronavirus relief funds. The update comes after large companies tapped the Paycheck Protection Program for hundreds of millions of dollars in loans while thousands of small businesses have yet to receive funding. (CNBC)
The $310 billion in small business loans is likely “already exhausted.” Banking groups say the volume of applications already sent to the Small Business Administration makes it likely that much, if not all, of the new money will go to those already in the queue. Any new applicants would likely miss out on this funding round. (CBS News)
3/ The House established a special committee to investigate the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and the multi-trillion-dollar government rescue effort. The committee is charged with examining the implementation of the coronavirus relief packages and scrutinizing “preparedness for and response to the coronavirus crisis.” It will have the power to subpoena documents and witnesses. No Republicans voted in favor of the new panel, which passed along party lines, 212 to 182. (New York Times / Washington Post)
4/ A day after praising the decision, Trump denounced Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision to allow businesses reopen, saying he “strongly” disagreed with the move. On Tuesday, Trump lauded Kemp’s decision to allow businesses like barbershops and nail salons to reopen and called him a “capable man who knows what he’s doing.” Trump, however, reversed course at his daily coronavirus press briefing on Wednesday, saying “it’s too soon” to reopen and that “I disagree strongly with his decision to open certain facilities.” Trump added that he wants Kemp “to do what he thinks is right. But I disagree with him on what he’s doing.” (NBC News / Washington Post / Politico / New York Times / CBS News / Atlantic Journal-Constitution)
- Members of the coronavirus task force sent Dr. Deborah Birx to convince Trump to oppose Kemp’s decision to reopen businesses in his state. At a meeting before Wednesday’s briefing, task force members discussed Kemp’s move to open up many businesses, such as nail salons and bowling alleys. “I cannot defend this publicly,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said to others at the meeting. Dr. Birx then had a private meeting with Trump just prior to the news conference and to convince him to denounce Kemp’s decision. (CNN)
5/ CDC Director Robert Redfield said he was “accurately quoted” in a Washington Post article that the fall and winter would be “more difficult” because influenza and the coronavirus would be circulating at the same time. Trump, however, opened the coronavirus task force briefing by asking Redfield to explain how he was “totally misquoted,” calling the article “fake news,” and claiming that “if [the coronavirus] should come back, you have the flu and the embers of corona, but in my opinion from everything I’ve seen, it can never be like anything like we witnessed right now.” Trump also predicted that the coronavirus may not come back at all, and if it does it will be in “embers” or “pockets.” Dr. Deborah Birx did not directly support Trump’s assertion. Later in the briefing, Dr. Anthony Fauci contradicted Trump, telling reporters that he is “convinced” that “there will be coronavirus in the fall.” (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / The Hill/ ABC News)
- 📌 Day 1188: The director of the CDC warned that a second wave of the coronavirus will likely be worse because it will probably coincide with the start of flu season. “There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said. “And when I’ve said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don’t understand what I mean. We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time.” (Washington Post)
6/ The Pentagon is planning a multicity tour of the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds to “champion national unity” amid the coronavirus pandemic. The demonstration squadrons for the Navy and Air Force will fly over some cities in the next several weeks “to thank first responders, essential personnel, and military service members as we collectively battle the spread of COVID-19.” A senior military official clarified that the flyovers would avoid areas where people can congregate. (Washington Post / Axios)
7/ Trump signed an executive order temporarily suspending the issuance of green cards for 60 days. The order effectively restricts entry to people outside the U.S. seeking lawful permanent residency, but includes numerous exemptions, like those for overseas spouses and young children of American citizens. The order does not change the status of immigrants already in the U.S. Trump claimed that the executive order would “protect our great American workers” and “ensure unemployed Americans of all backgrounds will be first in line for jobs as our economy reopens. Crucially it will also preserve our health care resources for American patients.” Trump also indicated that the order could be extended “at the appropriate time.” (New York Times / Bloomberg / NBC News / ABC News / Los Angeles Times)
- 📌 Day 1188: Trump declared – via tweet – that he will sign an executive order suspending most immigration to the U.S. because of the coronavirus pandemic, claiming the move will “protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens” from “the Invisible Enemy.” The announcement comes as Trump has repeatedly claimed that the U.S. is ready to re-open despite the continued spread of the coronavirus and a U.S. death toll in the tens of thousands. A senior administration official added that the move has been “under consideration for a while,” but provided no details about the plan. Trump previously restricted travel from China and Europe to stop the spread of the coronavirus, and most immigration into the country has already been paused, as the government has temporarily stopped processing nonworker visas. The new policy will deny entry for people seeking most types of work visas for 60 days, but exempt people seeking jobs in “food production and directly helping to protect the supply chain,” which could apply to seasonal farmworker visas. (New York Times / Politico / Bloomberg / Washington Post / NBC News / Associated Press / Reuters / CNN / CBS News)
8/ The Supreme Court ruled that the Clean Water Act requires the federal government to regulate some groundwater pollutants that reach oceans, rivers, and streams. The court rejected the Trump administration’s argument that the law did not apply to pollution that traveled through groundwater, saying it would create an “obvious loophole.” (CNBC / CNN / New York Times / Washington Post)
poll/ 70% of Americans believe the country’s top priority should be to “try to slow the spread of coronavirus by keeping people home and social distancing, even if the economy is hurt in the short term.” 30%, meanwhile, think the top national priority should instead be to “try to get the economy going by sending people back to work, even if it means more people might be exposed to coronavirus.” (CBS News / Politico)
poll/ 80% of Americans say strict shelter-in-place measures are worth it in order to protect people and limit the spread of coronavirus. 51% say “the worst is yet to come” when it comes to the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. (Kaiser Family Foundation)
poll/ 29% of voters under 30 say their lives are worse under Trump’s leadership, 39% say their lives are no different, and 15% say their lives are better. (NPR)
poll/ 23% of Americans say they have a high level of trust in the information Trump provides about the coronavirus. 60% of Americans say Trump isn’t listening to health experts enough. (Associated Press)
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