Time for Progressives to Seize House Relief Bills

On Tuesday, Nancy Pelosi and the House Democratic leadership revealed their proposal for the latest stimulus bill, titled the HEROES act.

While it allocates $3 trillion to relief—including another one-time $1,200 payment to many Americans—it falls utterly short of addressing “Great Depression-level unemployment, millions of bankruptcies, and an economy that experts now tend to agree has been wounded even worse than it was in 2008.”

Progressive measures, such as a comprehensive paycheck guarantee, remain absent in this latest bill. In These Times asserts that, as Republican opposition will make relief bills harder to pass, progressives must demand Democrats proportionally address the crisis.

Truthout breaks down the missing progressive policies and the Democratic party’s priorities.

Democracy at Stake in ‘Faithless Electors’ Supreme Court Case

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard arguments that could shape future presidential elections. The case questions whether Electoral College members can “go rouge” and support candidates who didn’t win the state’s popular vote.

Democracy Now! speaks with Jena Griswold, Secretary of State of Colorado—one of 31 U.S. states with a law requiring presidential electors to support the candidate who wins the popular vote.

This case follows the 2016 attempt by—and subsequent unconstitutional removal of—Michael Baca. One of nine Colorado electors, Baca cast his Electoral Collage ballot for Republican John Kasich instead of Democrat Hillary Clinton.

COVID-19 Will Keep Election-Running Elderly Workers Home

The coronavirus pandemic is forcing elderly poll workers, who comprised over half of U.S. poll workers in 2016, to remain home, reports The Center for Public Integrity.

Election officials are openly recruiting younger people for remaining 2020 primaries and the November general election, but the overall shortage of workers is prompting a reduction of in-person voting sites for upcoming primaries.

Advocates argue for access to safe and adequate in-person voting alongside vote-by-mail, which officials anticipate more citizens will opt for.

Two Coasts. One Virus.

ProPublica presents a detailed account of the COVID-19 responses in California, where prompt collaboration saved thousands of lives, and New York, where bickering cost thousands more.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed contacted Gov. Gavin Newsom and counties surrounding the city to facilitate shutdown of all but essential travel across all of California by March 19. San Francisco had just under 40 reported COVID-19 cases and no deaths.

Breed had sent New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio a copy of her detailed shelter-in-place order. By about that time, de Blasio had the idea to close the city. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo derided de Blasio—and reminded that he alone had the power to enact such a measure.

Reopening: A Chronicle of Needless Deaths Foretold

Donald Trump has declared victory over the pandemic even as a COVID-19 outbreak in the White House sent three senior health officials into isolation.

The premature reopening of America according to contradictory federal advisement will not only cause needless death, but delay a return to normality, warns Dr. Anthony Fauci, echoing public health experts.

Economists too warn against reopening with insufficient testing, contract tracing, and distancing measures. They forecast a “double-dip recession.”

The Nation reminds that, as ever, half-measured re-opening will disproportionately damage the lives of “people who are less educated, have limited health care, and are toward the bottom of the income distribution.”

Big Pharma Doesn’t Care About Your Health

While a free and universally available vaccine will ensure the most effective route out of the coronavirus pandemic, pharmaceutical companies lobbied against any language in the first coronavirus relief bill constraining their profits from such a vaccine.

Republicans shot down Rep. Jan Schakowsky’s (D-Ill.) suggestion that private corporations shouldn’t be granted exclusive rights to set the price of a future vaccine.

In These Times enumerates how the pharmaceutical industry’s push for profits drives up American deaths.

Hackers Claim to Have Campaign-Ending Dirt on Trump

On Thursday, hackers trying to extort celebrity law firm Grubman, Shire, Meiselas, & Sacks doubled their ransom to $42 million, claiming to have election-dooming dirt on Donald Trump.

Mother Jones asks what the hell that could be, given Trump’s public record.

Before the 2016 election, voters heard Trump brag on tape about sexually assaulting women. Dozens of women have accused him of sexual harassment. He’s asked Russia on tape to hack 2016 presidential opponents’ emails. He was impeached. The Washington Post counts over 18,000 lies from his Presidency.

The continuing list doesn’t lend itself to concise summary.

Trump Administration Uses COVID-19 to Deport Migrant Children

Lawyers representing migrant children across the United States, as well as government officials, are accusing the federal government of using the coronavirus pandemic to keep kids in custody.

But the Trump administration has been quietly ramping up deportations at the same time and halting due-process rights for migrants amid the pandemic, reports Colorlines.

As Democracy Now! addresses, the U.S. is deporting thousands during the pandemic, causing a dangerous spread of the virus in Central America and the Caribbean.

Jake Johnson with the tweet of the week:
New York Youth Pushing State’s Divestment of Fossil Fuel Pension

Young activists are reinvigorating the Fossil Fuel Divestment act, a bill that would force the New York Common Retirement Fund to divest from fossil fuel companies within five years.

InsideClimate News reports the bill has been introduced in the New York Senate four years in a row. Though the bill is still in committee, it has advanced further than ever before.

If the Senate and State Assembly pass it, New York would be the first U.S. state to commit to divesting its pension entirely of companies that make their money from producing, selling, or burning fossil fuels.

The Headlines

1. Hydroxychloroquine: Drug promoted by Trump as coronavirus ‘game changer’ increasingly linked to deaths (The Independent)

2. Welcome to the Coronavirus Class War (The Atlantic)

3. Democratic Lawmakers To Probe Trump’s Firing Of State Dept Watchdog (HuffPost)

4. Coronavirus: Trump says US reopening, ‘vaccine or no vaccine’ (BBC)

5. Swing states become partisan battlegrounds in America’s fight against Covid-19 (The Guardian)