It was an action-packed BradCast today, though not in a good way, unfortunately, thanks to Republicans and their state Supreme Court majority in Wisconsin. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]
First up, as we've been telling you for weeks, there is absolutely no plan at the federal level for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic --- on either a medical level or an economic level --- even months after the Trump Administration first learned about it. The $2.2 trillion so-called Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, hastily adopted by Congress and signed by the President just over a week ago is a mess.
Individual checks for $1,200 may take months to get to many Americans (if they get them at all) and the process for doling out $350 billion allocated by the measure towards immediate relief for small businesses via forgivable loans is even more of a disaster out of the gate. Banks, serving as middlemen, are not set up for the onslaught of applications that began on Friday, with many applicants being turned away entirely by the largest banks, and with nowhere near enough money included in the pool to serve the 30 million companies considered eligible small businesses. Our guest today suggests that no more than 5% of businesses who need help under the CARES Act's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) are likely to receive the immediately needed loans before the funding runs out.
Moreover, there is still no nationalized plan by the Trump Administration to ensure that states have all of the basic equipment they need --- from masks, gloves and gowns to ventilators and test kits --- as supply chains have become an all out "Wild West show, with middlemen and drop points and plane rescues," according to our guest DAVID DAYEN, financial investigative journalist and Executive Editor of The American Prospect. He is now producing his indispensable "Unsanitized: Covid-19 Daily Report" column and newsletter at The Prospect.
He reports that it is not only states competing with other states and the federal government for critical life-saving equipment, but that the federal government (FEMA) is also competing with the federal government (the Strategic National Stockpile or SNS), bidding up the same gear! All of this as U.S. deaths officially attributed to COVID-19 blew past the 10,000 mark on Monday, with a week ahead that could include a "9/11 attack worth of Americans" dying, day after day, for 10 days in a row beginning in the next few days, according to one of the more conservative data projections.
Dayen offers detail on much of the above and the problem that many Americans are also now facing in their attempts to file for bankruptcy protection --- at a time that many desperately need to do so --- with courthouses shutdown around the country, and only those lucky enough to be able to afford an attorney able to file electronically.
As CNN's Jake Tapper made clear on Sunday: there is no plan for any of this. It is a disaster that is likely to continue for months (at least) with no competent officials leading the way at the federal level, and absolutely no ultimate plan to help us get out, eventually, from under what is likely to be as bad or worse than the Great Depression. That, despite the "irrational exuberance" exhibited today by a Wall Street that seems to be in utter denial.
Then, where we had hoped when today's show began to bring you the long overdue good news that Wisconsin's Democratic Governor Tony Evers finally did the right thing on Monday morning by issuing an Executive Order to postpone tomorrow's Presidential Primary, state Supreme Court election and municipal races until June 9, we were forced to change course mid-show after the state's Rightwing Supremes blocked Evers' order along a 4 to 2 party line vote.
Therefore, unless something changes, where Badger State voters can find an open polling place tomorrow (scores of municipalities found zero poll workers willing to face death to man the polls, and Milwaukee's usual 180 polling sites are being reduced to just 5!), voters will have to risk their lives to cast a vote in person on Tuesday. After Republicans had their way with the state Supremes, they have also filed with the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn an order by a federal judge last week that allowed 6 extra days for voters to turn in absentee ballots, many of which have not yet even arrived to voters on the day before the Election (when they would otherwise be due.) After air time, it appears that the stolen Republican Majority on SCOTUS has also decided with their GOP brethren in WI, and voted along party lines to overturn the federal judge's extension of the deadline for absentee ballots. Tens of thousands will be disenfranchised in the bargain.
It is a chaotic mess and electoral disaster. But, more to the point, it is a DEADLY disaster in the making, with Republicans in the state all too happy to condemn voters to potential death because they think more Democrats will be affected and possibly killed, and they hope that their incumbent Republican state Supreme Court Justice, who is on the ballot on Tuesday, will prevail under these conditions. It is appalling and Americans should get ready for much more of this in the months ahead, with more than 20 states still to cast their postponed primary votes, and all 50 states preparing to figure out how to run an election during a deadly pandemic this November. One of the two major parties has made clear that they are more than happy to place their retention of political power over the lives of actual American citizens.
Finally, today, we open up the phones to allow a few callers from the coronaverse to ring in....
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)