By Robert A. Vella
The U.S. economy shrunk in the second quarter by a staggering 33% – a collapse not seen since at least the early 1930s when the Great Depression ravaged America. Shortly after the news was announced, President Trump again started talking about delaying the 2020 election – a power he doesn’t possess (see: Trump floats idea of delaying the November election, a power granted to Congress, as he ramps up attacks on voting by mail and Fact checking Barr’s claim that it’s ‘common sense’ that foreign countries will counterfeit mail-in ballots). He is a desperate man running scared of his own failures. Trump knows he is incapable of resolving the public health crisis, so he is refusing to even try.
The coronavirus pandemic shows no signs of abating, and it is stalling Trump’s economic recovery plans. Tens of millions of Americans have lost their jobs, are struggling to support themselves, and are facing eviction from their homes as financial aid measures previously passed by Congress are now expiring. Meanwhile, Republicans on Capitol Hill are torn over whether to support halfhearted relief measures (as a political ploy to boost their reelection chances) or to do nothing at all. Democrats in the House have already passed a substantive bill to address the problem, but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is blocking it in the Senate (see: Senate must pass the Heroes Act now to help struggling Americans). Ironically, it is Trump and the GOP who are most politically vulnerable to a worsening economic crisis.
It is also ironic that Trump ally Herman Cain, the former presidential candidate who attended Trump’s imprudent rally in Tulsa, has died of COVID-19.
In another megalomaniacal move, Trump has apparently intervened in an agreement between Oregon and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to withdrawal paramilitary federal forces from Portland which have been unconstitutionally suppressing racial injustice protests (see: Federal agents tear-gas Portland protesters again).
Here’s today’s news:
The US economy shrank by a 32.9% annual rate in the April-to-June quarter as the country grappled with cut backs in spending during the pandemic.
It was the deepest decline since the government began keeping records in 1947 and three times more severe than the prior record of 10% set in 1958.
Reduced spending on services such as healthcare drove the fall.
Economists have said they expected to see the sharpest drop in the second quarter, with recovery thereafter.
But as virus cases in the US surge and some areas re-impose restrictions on activity, the rebound is showing signs of stalling.
The novel coronavirus pandemic has now killed more than 667,000 people worldwide.
Over 17 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their nations’ outbreaks.
The United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 4.4 million diagnosed cases. On Wednesday, the U.S. death toll climbed over 150,000 and now stands at 150,716.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said late Wednesday that the Republican Party has a “disdain” toward working people as the lawmakers continue to clash during stalled negotiations over the next coronavirus stimulus package.
CNN host Anderson Cooper asked Pelosi if there was any progress made toward helping working-class people, with the added unemployment benefits included in the March coronavirus relief package set to formally expire on Friday.
Pelosi responded by saying her colleagues across the aisle do not trust how Americans without a job are using the additional $600-per-week federal benefit during the pandemic.
“While they have a disdain or sort of a condescension toward working people it seems because they don’t trust how they might use the $600. That kind of thing. ‘Oh, they have money to pay the rent. They are just not paying the rent,'” she said.
“We cannot operate if we’re not even stipulating to a basic set of facts: the people are hurting, that unemployment is high and that we have a way to address this in terms of honoring heroes, testing, tracing, treatment as well as money in the pockets of the American people, being respectful of them and understanding their needs,” she added.
Russia was secretly warned by the US State Department of potential blowback if it paid bounties for American troops killed in Afghanistan, people familiar with matter said in a Daily Beast report.
President Donald Trump and his staff, who initially denied he was briefed about the matter, later went on to say that the intelligence he received was not credible.
Trump has personally spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin multiple times after the intelligence on the Russian bounties circulated in his briefings, and he said in a recent interview with Axios that he had “never discussed it with him.”
Questioning of four top technology executives by lawmakers on the House Judiciary Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law Subcommittee on Wednesday yielded key insights about the direction of its ongoing investigation into potentially anti-competitive business practices by Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.
But the hearing seemed at times to take place in dual universes. In one, Democrats focused largely on the topic at hand. In the other, Republicans used the opportunity to level accusations of anti-conservative bias in Silicon Valley and censorship of conservative voices online.
The executives — Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Apple’s Tim Cook, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Sundar Pichai — managed to steer clear of most of those accusations, arguing that their platforms are politically neutral. But under questioning related to their business practices, including their corporate acquisitions, the tycoons appeared more vulnerable.
Here are five key takeaways from the landmark proceedings.
Former special counsel Robert Mueller’s decision not to charge President Trump with obstruction of justice was an “unconscionable” lapse that “let Trump get away with lying,” Norm Eisen, former special counsel for the House Judiciary Committee, said in a Wednesday interview on the Yahoo News podcast “Skullduggery.”
Eisen’s sharp comments about Mueller, for whom he said he has always had great respect, came during a discussion about his new book “A Case for the American People: The United States v. Donald J. Trump,” an intimate account of the impeachment battle. Eisen reveals in the book that he drafted 10 articles of impeachment against President Trump — some of which stemmed directly from Mueller’s report — even before the House learned about the Ukraine scandal that ultimately became the basis for impeachment.
But Eisen reserved some of his strongest criticism for Mueller, who he believes was ill-equipped to deal with a president as reckless as Trump.
“He failed because he brought a 19th-century mentality, a 19th-century ethics and honor, to a 21st-century problem,” Eisen said. “It’s like trying to put out a burning building with a water pistol. His report just did not, was not fit for the purpose. It did not address the crisis represented by a President Trump who is attacking all the fundamentals of our rule of law, constitutional republic system.”