RELIEF TALKS AT DEAD END; TRUMP VOWS MORE ORDERS
WASHINGTON — A last-ditch effort by Democrats to revive Capitol Hill talks on vital COVID-19 rescue money collapsed in disappointment Friday, making it increasingly likely that Washington gridlock will mean more hardship for millions of people who are losing enhanced jobless benefits and further damage for an economy pummeled by the still-raging coronavirus.
President Donald Trump said Friday night he was likely to issue more limited executive orders related to COVID, perhaps in the next day or so, if he can’t reach a broad agreement with Congress.
The day’s negotiations at the Capitol added up to only “a disappointing meeting,” declared top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer, saying the White House had rejected an offer by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to curb Democratic demands by about $1 trillion. He urged the White House to “negotiate with Democrats and meet us in the middle. Don’t say it’s your way or no way.”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, “Unfortunately we did not make any progress today.” Republicans said Pelosi was relying on budget maneuvers to curb costs and contended she has overplayed her hand.
Often an impasse in Washington is of little consequence for the public — not so this time. It means longer and perhaps permanent expiration of a $600 per-week bonus pandemic jobless benefit that’s kept millions of people from falling into poverty. It denies more than $100 billion to help schools reopen this fall. And it denies billions of dollars to state and local governments considering furloughs.
Ahead is uncertainty. Both the House and Senate have left Washington. With no deal in sight, their absence raises the possibility of a prolonged stalemate that stretches well into August and even September.
Speaking from his New Jersey golf club Friday evening, Trump said “if Democrats continue to hold this critical relief hostage I will act under my authority as president to get Americans the relief they need.”
Trump said he may issue executive orders on home evictions, student loan debt and allowing states to repurpose COVID relief funding into their unemployment insurance programs. He also said he’ll likely issue an executive order to defer collection of Social Security payroll taxes, an idea that has less support among his Republican allies.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said, “This is not a perfect answer — we’ll be the first ones to say that — but it is all that we can do, and all the president can do within the confines of his executive power.”
Rule One in every cult is to ignore everybody except Dear Leader. He alone can explain the worldwide conspiracy against himself and his acolytes. Alternate sources of information cannot be trusted. It’s all Fake News, demonic lies from the pit of hell calculated to deceive.
Rule Two is that only Dear Leader can protect and save you.
So ignore all the hearses. Pay no attention to the so-called “fact” that the United States, with roughly 4% percent of the world’s population, has 22% of the pandemic’s fatalities. 155,000 corpses?
Those people were all going to die eventually anyway.
In a wide-ranging interview with Axios reporter Jonathan Swan on HBO, Trump claimed that U.S. deaths from the COVID-19 virus are “lower” than anywhere in the world.
“Lower than the world? In what?” Swan asked.
Trump produced a chart purporting to show that a smaller proportion of infected Americans have died than anywhere else.
Never mind that he’s insisted for months that statistics showing an alarming rise in COVID-19 infections are phony. If the United States didn’t do so much testing, see, we wouldn’t have so many sick people.
By the same logic, of course, the best means of reducing drunk driving would be for the state police to eliminate sobriety checks altogether. Think about it: no tests, no more DUIs.
Interviewer Swan, an Aussie by the sound of him, objected. “I’m talking about death as a proportion of population,” he said. “That’s where the U.S. is really bad. Much worse than South Korea, Germany, etc.”
“You can’t do that,” Trump sputtered. He implied that South Korea (300 deaths in a population of 51 million) has faked its statistics, and insisted that America is doing far better than Europe. Why, deaths are dropping sharply in Florida and Texas, he claimed, which is absolutely false.
Reality: On July 30, the entire European Union (population 446 million) reported 7,532 new cases of the virus. The United States (population 328 million) reported 65,112. That would make the American rate of current COVID infections roughly 10 TIMES Europe’s.
Trump singled out Spain, describing it as having “a big spike” in cases. The Washington Post’s Philip Bump ran the numbers. Spain has indeed experienced a recent resurgence of the disease: “averaging 2,600 new cases a day over the past seven days and five deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The United States has seen nearly 60,000 new cases per day and a bit over 1,000 deaths.”
Of course, the U.S. is larger than Spain, but not 200 times larger.
But the beauty of belonging to the Trump Cult is that you don’t have to believe the numbers. Instead, you can trust Donald Trump Jr., who recently introduced us via Twitter to the medical theories of one Dr. Stella Immanuel, who holds a number of interesting views, among them that gynecological diseases are caused by women having sex with demons in their sleep. (Technically an “incubus” in medieval folklore.)
Immanuel also contends that space alien DNA can be used in medicine, and that government scientists are conspiring to create a vaccine eliminating religious belief. She also thinks face masks are unnecessary.
Of course she does.
It follows that this medical savant contends what Rush
Limbaugh and Sean Hannity have contended all along: that the miracle drug hydroxychloroquine is a sure cure for COVID infections, contrary to what the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and White House testing chief Admiral Brett Giroir say: that the stuff has proven somewhere between ineffective and potentially harmful due to heart-damaging side-effects.
Needless to say, Dear Leader endorses Dr. Immanuel’s views. Of course he does.
The origins of the hydroxychloroquine fixation remain obscure to me, but its promise remains a foundational belief of the Trump Cult. Writing in The Daily Beast, Will Sommer explained:
“For the vast majority of Trump supporters ... the drug represents the possibility that COVID-19 can be successfully treated and the deaths stopped. But there’s also a political benefit: Portraying hydroxychloroquine as a forbidden cure allows pro-Trump media to blame anyone but Trump for the coronavirus disaster. In this telling, COVID-19 could have been cured months ago with hydroxychloroquine, if only the Democrats, the media, and Dr. Anthony Fauci would have listened to Trump!”
Me, I hear from angry Trumpists all the time.
Many sincerely believe that there’s a doctor operating out of a storefront clinic in Texas who has a COVID cure, but that the lying news media keep it hidden to hurt Trump. Like children, they have no idea how journalism works.
A classic Trumpist reader email: “Please. 156,000 dead are Trump’s fault?! Globalist operatives Lord Fauci and Birks destroy the economy and American lives. You prove my point, Komrad.”
Even his own White House Task Force, it seems, conspires against the great man. Why they’re not drinking Clorox on ice, I can’t tell you.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
Supporters of President Donald Trump stand outside Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia, last Saturday as Trump’s motorcade passes.