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The Pandemic Is Damaging the GOP Brand Everywhere

The Pandemic Is Damaging the GOP Brand EverywhereAlthough hardly any of the governors grappling with the fiercest coronavirus outbreaks are on the ballot this fall, voters’ verdicts about their performance loom heavily over another electoral battle with enormous implications for the balance of power between the parties over the next decade: the struggle for control of state legislatures.In polls, voters have given higher marks to Democratic governors who have moved cautiously on reopening than to Republicans who reopened early in response to President Donald Trump’s cues. That may offer Democrats their best chance to overcome the GOP’s entrenched advantage in state legislatures—which next year will draw local legislative and congressional-district lines that will govern elections through 2030.“COVID-19 and the concerns that surround that—everything from the health concerns people have to concerns about the economy and school—it’s the issue in the 2020 campaign, without a doubt,” Bob Trammell, the Democratic minority…


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The Mechanics of President Trump’s Disaster Relief Memorandum

The Mechanics of President Trump’s Disaster Relief MemorandumEarlier today, I shared my tentative thoughts on President Trump’s four new executive actions. This post will break down the mechanics of the Memorandum on Authorizing the Other Needs Assistance Program for Major Disaster Declarations Related to Coronavirus Disease 2019. I will address the other actions later. The CARES Act created the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) to cover costs incurred by state and local governments due to COVID-19. The memorandum states that the CRF currently about $80 billion. The Department of Homeland Security also administers the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF). This fund, which predated the CARES Act, has $70 billion in funding. It is used, as the name suggests, for disasters. And the President has declared that the COVID-19 situation is a “disaster.” The memorandum directs that $44 billion from the DRF be provided to the states “[t]o provide financial assistance for the…


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Why Joe Biden Can’t Make a Plan

Why Joe Biden Can’t Make a PlanWill we have a coronavirus vaccine by Inauguration Day, or will it still be several months off? If we do have a vaccine, will it have been competently distributed, or will America be a haphazard patchwork of immunity? Will the spread of infection, and the deaths that follow, slow or quicken? Will the economy have stabilized, or will the country be careening into the worst hole in human memory?Joe Biden does not know the answers to any of those questions—no one does. But the many uncertainties make it exceptionally hard for the presumptive Democratic nominee to plan what he’d do if he is elected president.“When President Biden is sworn in, in January, who knows how many people will have died by then?” California Representative Karen Bass, a potential vice-presidential candidate, told me. “And then who knows what the economy would be? We could be…


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The Statutory Authorization for President Trump’s Disaster Relief Memorandum

The Statutory Authorization for President Trump’s Disaster Relief MemorandumYesterday, I blogged about President Trump’s Memorandum on Authorizing the Other Needs Assistance Program for Major Disaster Declarations Related to Coronavirus Disease 2019. I’ll presume familiarity with the mechanics of the memorandum. This post will consider whether the President has the statutory authority to implement this memorandum. There are three primary statutes referenced in the memorandum. First, the starting point is 42 U.S.C. 5191(b). This statute authorizes the President to declare a national emergency: The President may exercise any authority vested in him by section 5192 of this title or section 5193 of this title with respect to an emergency when he determines that an emergency exists for which the primary responsibility for response rests with the United States because the emergency involves a subject area for which, under the Constitution or laws of the United States, the United States exercises exclusive or preeminent responsibility and…


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The Amazing Disappearing Election

The Amazing Disappearing ElectionOver the past six months, it has seemed like every news story is about the coronavirus, or President Donald Trump’s failed response to it. It’s been a challenge for even crucial issues like racial justice and police violence to break into the media agenda for more than a few days at a time.Although the events of 2020 present unique challenges to the media—and to humanity as a whole—the narrowing of the media agenda, a phenomenon I call “agenda compression,” dates back to the 2016 election. Former CBS President Les Moonves famously observed of Trump’s candidacy: “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.” News networks rode the twists and turns of Trump’s candidacy to record ratings and ad sales, and the spotlight has not turned away from Trump for a second since he won the presidency.When Barack Obama was president, his name…


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America’s Rich Used to Move Around More Than the Poor. When COVID Landed, That Flipped.

America’s Rich Used to Move Around More Than the Poor. When COVID Landed, That Flipped.This piece was originally published in Wired and appears here as part of our Climate Desk Partnership. Now more than ever in the US, your money defines you. If you’re rich, you’ve splurged on enough canned food and TP to ride out several pandemics, let alone COVID-19. As the start of the school year approaches, perhaps you’ve hired tutors for your kids. Maybe you’ve decamped to your country compound to hunker down and escape the masses. But if you’re poor, you may be stuck taking public transport to your essential job. Without much savings in the bank, you have to make frequent trips to the grocery story to get supplies little by little. So perhaps it’s no surprise that scientists now have the data to show that Americans with low income have been more mobile during the pandemic than the…


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