Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Americans Are Finally Figuring Out What We Have In The White House-- And That They Don't Like It


This morning, the IMF released its annual World Economic Outlook report, which predicts that "this year the global economy will experience its worst recession since the Great Depression, surpassing that seen during the global financial crisis a decade ago. The Great Lockdown, as one might call it, is projected to shrink global growth dramatically." The fallout in the U.S.-- which is the worst in the developed world because of Trump regime dysfunction and incompetence-- could actually rejigger the electoral map strongly enough to give the Democrats wins in states they haven't taken in decades. Politico, for example, sees Texas as up for grabs. The last time Texas gave it's electoral votes to a Democratic presidential nominee was over 4 decades ago when when Jimmy Carter beat Gerald Ford (1976). Even if Biden can't close the deal, "The economic impact threatens to hurt down-ticket Republicans, who for decades have hitched their fortunes to a robust economy. Democrats are targeting seven U.S. House seats and defending two, mostly in the suburbs of the largest cities: Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, El Paso and Fort Worth. Winning the state House is not out of the question for Democrats. They need to flip nine seats and are targeting districts that O'Rourke carried two years ago to get there."

New polling of likely voters, from a Firehouse Strategies survey, shows Señor Trumpanzee's pandemic approval ratings continuing to underperform, especially in relation to governors-- and even Congress! They found that "among 2020 general likely voters, Trump’s approval rating on coronavirus (51%) is currently lower than the approval ratings of Congress (57%) and governors (75%)" and that Biden would beat him 53-43%. Voters are starting to conclude exactly who is to blame.

Trump’s approval rating on the coronavirus crisis (51%) is currently lower than the approval ratings of Congress (57%) and governors (75%). That gubernatorial approval doesn't extend to clueless Trumpist allies like Ron DeSantis (R-FL).Tampa Bay Times reporters Steve Contoro and Larry Mower reported that among governors, DeSantis is standing out-- for his sheer incompetence. "Unlike other governors," they wrote, "DeSantis doesn’t hold regular public briefings. He has ceded the biggest decisions, like whether to close beaches, to city and county officials, yet he hasn’t talked to many of them. Early on, he clashed with federal officials over whether Florida had community spread of the virus. DeSantis’ uneven response has made him an outlier among his counterparts across the country. The approval ratings of most governors have soared during the crisis. DeSantis, one of America’s most popular governors a few months ago, has seen his support plummet. One poll found him the third-worst rated governor at handling the coronavirus in the country."

The poll they were referring to shows TRump's corona-approval at 45%. Compare that to the half dozen best-rated:
Mike DeWine (R-OH)- 85%
Larry Hogan (R-MD)- 84%
Andy Beshear (D-KY)- 83%
Tim Walz (D-MN)- 82%
Charlie Baker (R-MA)- 81%
Andrew Cuomo (D-NY)- 81%
The 6 worst performing governors, according to voters in their own states, are all Trump goons who do whatever he wants them to. Nevertheless, they all rate considerably higher than Trump:
Henry McMaster (R-SC)- 63%
Tate Reeves (R-MS)- 62%
Bill Lee (R-TN)- 60%
Ron DeSantis (R-FL)- 53%
Mike Parson (R-MO)- 53%
Doug Ducey (R-AZ)- 52%
Before the pandemic hit, DeSantis' overall job approval was 58%. It has sunk 7 points in just a few weeks. Most other governors have seen their approvals go much higher. Gavin Newsom, California's very mediocre neo-liberal governor went up 41 points to 83%, mostly because of the reflected glory of the county official and mayors of the 6 Bay Area counties who ignored his cautious, stupid approach and shit down their own jurisdictions while he sat around doing nothing. Ditto for Cuomo, whose ratings went up 32 points.

Lousiana's governor, Democrat John Bel Edwards, acted faster than most governors and saw his job approval go up 14 points in this Trump state, from 54% to a robust 68%. The state's Lt. Governor, Republican Billy Nungesser isn't faring as well. He was on CNN with Wolf Blitzer the other day admitting he was wrong in his reticence to do anything to help the citizens. He consistently pushed business interests over healthcare and now wishes he hadn't encouraged Mardi Gras, which is responsible for God-knows-how-many infections and deaths. As of Monday morning Louisiana had 21,016 confirmed cases and 884 deaths, both rising figures. Nungesser said he "absolutely" regrets his comments. Nungesser also apologized to New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell (D) for criticizing her decision to cancel events: "So the mayor did the right thing. In hindsight, I was wrong and she was right."

Another poll, YouGov's for The Economist, had even worse news for Trump. They found that 57% of Americans say Trump waited too long to respond to the pandemic.That includes 85% of Democrats and 56% of independents and even 20% of Republicans.

Here in Los Angeles, where it is an infraction to walk into a store without a mask, you almost never see anyone not wearing one. Nationally though-- especially in red states where people get their information from Fox and other fake news outlets (including Trump)-- many people still don't wear masks. My unhealthy Trump-loving brother-in-law went shopping a few days ago without one. YouGov reported that "Up until this week, relatively few Americans wore a face mask in public. Only one in five (20%) said they did that last week. This week, one-third (34%) said they had done so... Looking ahead, however, a majority (55%) said they would. That still leaves large numbers who either aren't sure or-- like my brother-in-law-- refuse to. YouGov reported that Republicans are as likely to trust Trump’s medical advice than they are to trust legitimate medical advice from the CDC; they have more confidence in what Señor Trumpanzee says than in Dr. Fauci’s advice. Let's see how long it takes for Darwinian natural selection to kick in and rid the country of people that dumb.

Things can get a lot worse for Trump between now and November. If he really tries to "open up" the economy on May Day-- as he keeps threatening-- there may well be a million deaths, especially in red states that will do what he says. And then there's the economy. A sharp nasty recession could turn into a long drawn-out depression, which would then be the main thing Trump would be remembered for. Brookings released this chilling report on Sunday: The Coronavirus Collapse Is Upon Us. "The world economy is facing its most severe challenge of the postwar period," wrote Eswar Prashad and Ethan Wu. "Economic activity, financial markets, and private sector confidence are all collapsing... much worse is to come. Will the present downturn prove to be sharp but relatively brief, with a snapback of economic activity once the COVID-19 pandemic curve is flattened? Or is the stage set for a deep and protracted global recession? The outcome depends on the trajectory of the pandemic, the responses from policymakers, and whether these are sufficient to contain the damage while rebuilding consumer and business confidence. In any event, the combined public health and economic crisis makes a rapid recovery less likely. Demand has been ravaged, there are extensive disruptions to manufacturing supply chains, and a financial crisis is unfolding simultaneously. Unlike the 2008-09 crisis that was triggered by liquidity shortages in financial markets, the crisis now unfolding involves more fundamental solvency issues for many firms and industries beyond finance."
The U.S. economy has come to a virtual standstill, with a large share of the services sector shutting down, industrial activity being disrupted, and a red-hot labor market giving way, in the space of a few weeks, to a dramatic surge in unemployment. The U.S. has responded with an extraordinary series of fiscal and monetary stimulus measures, which will help mitigate the immediate fallout from the crisis. Still, to alleviate the longer-term damage from this economic sudden stop, further targeted stimulus measures are needed, especially to protect economically vulnerable households and small businesses.

Europe and Japan, which were facing economic stresses even before the pandemic, are likely to suffer substantial declines in output and increases in unemployment. France, Germany, and the U.K. face historic recessions as all indicators of activity and trade tumble. In some of these countries, social safety nets that are stronger than those in the U.S. will mitigate the impact of the crisis on the most economically vulnerable. But the path to recovery will be long and difficult.

China’s economy seems to be getting restarted, at least to a limited extent and despite the restrained monetary and fiscal policy responses to date. Key economic indicators such as industrial output, retail sales, and fixed asset investment contracted sharply in the first two months of the year, but there are signs that the contraction might have bottomed out. In some respects, China’s command economy is built to better withstand such massive shocks compared to market economies. Its government can aggressively marshal national resources beyond the limits of traditional macroeconomic tools, by directly supporting enterprises and banks. But the economy is hardly out of the woods yet, especially with unemployment rising, domestic and external demand likely to remain weak, and given the risks of a second wave of infection.

Other emerging market economies are heading for a traumatic period. Many have decrepit health care systems, congested urban population centers, and high levels of poverty, leaving little room for maneuver between controlling the pandemic and sliding into economic disaster. Making matters worse, some of these economies are also having to cope with sudden stops of capital inflows, depreciating currencies, and a lack of external demand for their exports. Others face formidable debt loads that are only growing harder to finance.

The Indian government, which was already grappling with a sharp growth slowdown, has put the economy on lockdown but faces both a health crisis and an economic crisis. Brazil’s limited pandemic response so far may sustain economic activity in the short run. But its financial markets and currency have tumbled, reflecting the likelihood of an eventual lockdown.

The economic and financial carnage wrought by the pandemic could leave deep scars on the world economy for a long time to come. Central banks, at least, are stepping up to the challenge. The Fed has taken extraordinary measures to bolster U.S. financial markets through asset purchases and by providing dollar liquidity to many foreign central banks. The ECB has stated that there are “no limits to our commitment to the euro” while announcing massive purchases of government and corporate bonds and other assets. The Bank of England is set to directly finance government spending. Even some emerging market central banks, such as the Reserve Bank of India, are considering quantitative easing operations. Such measures will keep financial markets from freezing up but will not by themselves offset the fall in consumer demand or stimulate investment.

With both conventional and unconventional monetary policy tools already stretched to the limit, fiscal policy will have to do more of the heavy lifting. Well-targeted fiscal measures can soften the blow on consumers and businesses, especially small and medium enterprises that tend to have minimal buffers, thereby helping sustain employment and demand. In these desperate times, this option ought to be exercised by governments that face low borrowing costs, even if they already have high levels of public debt. Low- and middle-income countries with inadequate health systems-- where the pandemic could be catastrophic-- need support from the international community, potentially including concessionary debt relief.

The inability of national governments to come together even at such a critical time to forge a common front against the pandemic highlights a dangerous fracturing of international cooperation. This is further damaging business and consumer confidence, which are already in free fall. The need of the hour is honest and transparent information-sharing by national leaders, coupled with aggressive steps to contain the epidemic, extensive stimulus to limit the economic fallout, and a carefully calibrated strategy to restart economic activity before too long.
While multiple leading conservative advocacy groups plan to soon announce a joint coalition to demand the reopening of the U.S. economy despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, pushing for government authorities to loosen restrictions against the warnings of leading public health experts, And Borowitz reported that the governors-- not DeSantis, right-wing dim bulb (at best, murderer at worst) Kristi Noem and Kevin Stitt-- are considering forming their own country. "In order to better coördinate their efforts to combat the coronavirus, the nation’s governors are considering the extraordinary step of forming a country," wrote Borowitz. "The radical proposal is an unusual bipartisan effort, spearheaded by the Democratic governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, and the Republican Governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine."
“Mike and I were bidding against each other for masks and ventilators, and I was, like, ‘Mike this is crazy,’” Whitmer said. “‘It would be so much better if we just worked together and formed a country.’”

DeWine said that Whitmer’s proposal of creating a country out of the fifty states “made a lot of sense.”

“It was one of those moments where someone throws out a nutty idea and you think, ‘Hold on, let’s think on that for a second,’” he said.

While the idea of the fifty states coming together to form a country is still in the embryonic stage, DeWine said that the states would ideally create a “federal government” led by a “President.”

“We’re all in agreement that it would be amazing to have a President right now,” DeWine said.

A straw poll of the governors indicates that the front-runner for President of this yet-to-be-named country is one of their own: Governor Andrew Cuomo, of New York.

“Andrew keeps saying that he doesn’t want to be President,” Whitmer said. “And I’m, like, ‘Dude, you already are.’”

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At 4:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


While I don't necessarily advocate this myself, I begin to understand the concern of the Founders regarding the expansion of franchise to the general population.

At 8:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, 4:08. The founders were worried what a stupid electorate might do to their grand plan.

They were correct to worry, as it turns out.

Interesting that their worries are suppressed in civics classes, even back in the '60s when I was a student. Of course, civics is now anachronistic in American schools.

At 10:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Civis? Honda sedans?


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