Gardner, Kushner To Maybe Have Words At Next Fundraiser

Tsarevitch Jared Kushner.

As Politico’s Burgess Everett reports, Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado is asking the Department of Health and Human Services for an investigation into the management of the Strategic National Stockpile as a shortage of crucial medical equipment like ventilators looms:

Sen. Cory Gardner is pushing for an investigation into possible mismanagement of the Strategic National Stockpile of ventilators needed to treat coronavirus patients — though the Colorado Republican is by no means going to war with the Trump administration over the matter. [Pols emphasis]

The GOP senator wrote a letter to the Health and Human Services inspector general on Thursday requesting a probe into reports of maintenance issues and delays regarding the distribution of ventilators from the national stockpile to states. And in an interview on Friday, Gardner said that “any kind of mismanagement or abuse needs to be rooted out and those responsible held accountable.”

President Trump and Cory Gardner in Colorado Springs (2/20/20)

Gardner’s request for a second look here is timely, after President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner made some controversial statements about the stockpile’s purpose, in response to angry governors including Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado who are begging for these supplies in their states:

Responding to criticism of the federal government from some governors, Jared Kushner, a senior White House aide and President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, said on Thursday that the federal stockpile of supplies is “supposed to be our stockpile” and that it’s “not supposed to be states’ stockpiles that they then use.”

Gardner said his letter is not a response to that comment, [Pols emphasis] which he learned of late Thursday, but he pointedly questioned Kushner’s statement in the interview.

“I don’t know what Kushner was talking about, what he meant. But the stockpile is for the country. And the country is made up of states in the federal government,” Gardner said.

No reasonable person is going to object to Sen. Gardner sending a letter about the Strategic National Stockpile, or complain when Gardner is able to prevail on his relationship with officials in Taiwan to arrange a shipment of personal protective equipment–a couple of days’ worth of which is reportedly headed to Colorado. But Gardner’s continuing refusal to hold the Trump administration responsible for the failure of the U.S. government to confront the pandemic over the course of months speaks louder than any of these belated gestures.

Once again, Gardner is–at best–trying to clean up a catastrophic mess while ignoring who made it.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (April 2)

On this day in 1513, the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León first caught sight of land in what is now Florida; nobody was around to tell his cruise ship to go somewhere else. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

As The Associated Press reports, jobless claims in the United States are skyrocketing to literally unprecedented levels:

More than 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week — doubling a record high set just one week earlier — a sign that layoffs are accelerating in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.

Combined with last week’s report that 3.3 million people sought unemployment aid two weeks ago, the U.S. economy has now suffered nearly 10 million layoffs in just the past few weeks — far exceeding the figure for any corresponding period on record.

 

► It is not hyperbole to say that states with Democratic Governors have generally responded better to the coronavirus outbreak than states with Republicans in charge. There are two stark examples of this in the southeastern United States, where Republican Governors in Florida and Georgia are reacting at the speed of molasses.

As The Washington Post reports, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis finally issued a statewide stay-at-home order on Wednesday…much too late:

DeSantis took heavy criticism from state lawmakers for refusing to enact such an order until this week, even as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases have nearly surpassed 7,000 in the state, including at least 85 deaths as of Tuesday.

The daily reports from the Florida Department of Health drive the fact home: The number of people testing positive for covid-19 has accelerated rapidly, nearly doubling in the past four days, with 3,274 new cases, bringing the statewide total to 6,741 as of Tuesday evening.

The state reported 857 people hospitalized and 85 deaths as of Tuesday, with the heaviest concentration of infection in Broward and Miami-Dade counties along the southeast coast and pockets in other areas like Tampa and Orange County, home of Walt Disney World. On Tuesday alone, 14 deaths were reported in the state, according to the Miami Herald.

But DeSantis looks like a damn rocket surgeon compared to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. Again, from The Washington Post:

After resisting a statewide stay-at-home order for days, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) succumbed to the pressure and issued one on Wednesday. Part of the reason, he said, was that he had just learned some new information.

Kemp said he was “finding out that this virus is now transmitting before people see signs.”

“Those individuals could have been infecting people before they ever felt bad, but we didn’t know that until the last 24 hours,” he said. He added that the state’s top doctor told him that “this is a game-changer.” 

It may have been a game-changer, but it was a game-changer weeks or even months ago. [Pols emphasis] That’s when health officials started emphasizing that asymptomatic people are transmitting the coronavirus. The idea that Kemp didn’t know this is striking. But he’s merely the latest top politician to indicate that he’s unfamiliar with the science even as he’s making life-or-death decisions for his constituents.

Really? Really? Kemp just learned that asymptomatic people are transmitting COVID-19??? Chris Cillizza of CNN has more on the bumbling coronavirus responses of DeSantis and Kemp.

States with Democrats in charge, like California and Washington, are seeing a flattening curve of coronavirus infections thanks to their swift actions.

Governor Jared Polis — who has notably not had the same trouble as DeSantis and Kemp — is asking the federal government for more assistance in procuring personal protective equipment (PPE). From a press release:

On March 28, Governor Polis sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence requesting additional PPE and ventilators to address the severe shortage Colorado is facing.

“We are facing a crisis-level shortage of these essential supplies to protect our health care workers and first responders. Colorado’s COVID-19 death rate is rising faster than any other state right now; the pandemic is spreading so fast that lags in testing are masking the true conditions experienced by Coloradans across the state,” Governor Polis wrote.

As The Denver Post reports, Colorado is working quickly to secure its own medical supplies because the federal government has not been able to answer the call quickly enough. The Department of Homeland Security says national stockpiles of PPE are essentially depleted.

Also on Wednesday, Gov. Polis announced that Colorado schools would remain closed for in-person learning through at least April 30.

 

► Kudos for CNN for its daily fact-checking of President Trump’s coronavirus “news briefings.”

 

► The State Supreme Court has ruled that the Colorado legislature can pick up where it left off when work was suspended last month because of the coronavirus outbreak. 

Lawmakers had asked the court to rule on whether the 120-day session language in the state constitution refers to consecutive days or if it can be split up by a recess (in this case because of coronavirus).

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Nunes, Johnson Keep Touting GOP Coronanonsense

Thumbs up for terrible advice!

We’ve written a few times in this space about the asinine responses from local Colorado Republicans regarding efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. It is worth noting that this is not a problem restricted to Colorado Republican elected officials.

As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, California Republican Rep. Devin Nunesthe ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee — should stop talking for awhile:

On the same day that President Donald Trump acknowledged that somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 Americans were likely to die because of the coronavirus, California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes went on Fox News to offer a very, uh, different perspective.

“Let’s stop looking at the death counters and let’s talk about how we can keep as many people employed as possible,” Nunes told Fox anchor Laura Ingraham. “That’s the key right now, Laura, because if you don’t, what you said earlier is correct. When you have people staying at home, not taking care of themselves, you will end up with a hell of a lot more people dying by other causes than you will by the coronavirus.”…

…It’s as though Nunes is living in some alternate universe here. In Nunes’ world, kids need to be going back to school. More people will die from staying home than returning to normal and spreading (or catching) the coronavirus! The economy will fail unless we start sending people back to work in two weeks!

Nunes is not — and this fact may surprise you — a doctor. Or an infectious disease expert. All of whom have pushed Trump to extend the social distancing guidelines in place for another month. And who have forced Trump to publicly admit that, even if we follow those guidelines to a T, we could well lose hundreds of thousands of Americans to the virus.

As Cillizza notes in a separate story, Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson is carrying a similar tune. Check out this Op-Ed penned by Sen. Johnson that appeared recently in USA Today:

Every premature death is a tragedy, but death is an unavoidable part of life. More than 2.8 million die each year — nearly 7,700 a day. The 2017-18 flu season was exceptionally bad, with 61,000 deaths attributed to it. Can you imagine the panic if those mortality statistics were attributed to a new virus and reported nonstop?

This is another example of the “let old people die” argument that has been espoused by right-wing talk show hosts and even the Lieutenant Governor of Texas. It’s a false moral choice, of course, but that isn’t preventing these meatheads from making the same arguments over and over again.

Being unemployed is bad; being dead is definitely worse. We’ll leave it to others to debate how much it matters if you are employed when you die.

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Cory Gardner Warns If GOP Loses Senate, Schumer Will Block Trump’s Judges

(Good to know, thanks – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Republicans must not only retain the White House this fall, they must also hold the U.S. Senate, says Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO). If they don’t do both, he warns, even if President Trump is reelected, Chuck Schumer won’t approve any of Trump’s judges: “he’ll block every single one of them.”

Gardner delivered his warning via live video to the Jefferson County Republican Assembly, which held its March 17 county assembly online using remote video chat:

“We know what the left wants to do! They want socialism. They want to destroy the fabric of who we are as a country. And that Supreme Court and our court system is that body that will say, no, you’ve gone too far. You can’t do that. You’ve stepped outside the bounds of the plain meaning of the text. And that’s exactly what we have to do with our judges. So not only do we need a president to make sure they’re selecting good constitutional based judges, but we have to have a United States Senate majority in order to confirm those judges. Because if we lose the majority and President Trump is still in the White House, Chuck Schumer is never going to approve any of his judges. He’ll block every single one of them. Colorado was ground zero. We know that Chuck Schumer thinks his path to becoming majority leader is by winning Colorado. We’re not going to let that happen.” — Sen. Cory Gardner to Jefferson County GOP, March 27, 2020 (at 10:45)

It’s unclear if Gardner is arguing that a hypothetical Senate Majority Leader Schumer would be wrong to block President Trump’s future judicial nominees, or whether he’s simply making a prediction of Schumer’s actions based on partisan assumptions.

What is clear, however, Gardner has steadfastly supported his own caucus leader Mitch McConnell’s strategy of blocking judges under Obama, but prioritizing the confirmation of Trump’s nominees over all other Senate business. McConnell bragged about his success on Fox News’, when host Sean Hannity noted —tongue firmly in cheek— that he was “shocked President Obama left so many vacancies and didn’t try to fill those positions.” McConnell responded bluntly:

“I’ll tell you why. I was in charge of what we did the last two years of the Obama administration.”

Gardner called for the Senate to refuse to confirm Obama’s choice to replace Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Merrick Garland, the same morning Obama announced Garland as the nominee. In explaining his decision not to meet with Garland, Gardner said the “stakes were too high and the American people deserve a role in this process.”

Two years later, however, he met with and voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh despite another looming election (the 2018 midterms) which would determine control of the U.S. Senate.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (March 31)

Happy April Fool’s Day Eve; please celebrate responsibly. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

More people have now died in the United States from coronavirus than in the 9/11 attacks. With numbers of infections and deaths on the rise in the U.S., Dana Milbank of The Washington Post asks a very simple question about President Trump:

How does a human being use the phrase “a very good job” in contemplation of the deaths of 100,000 to 200,000 souls?

Worldwide, the number of coronavirus infections has surpassed 800,000.

 

► President Trump can’t change history no matter how much he tries, as CNN’s Chris Cillizza explains:

What Trump is doing now is what he always does about everything: Attempting to rewrite history so that it looks like he was always the smartest guy in the room, the one person who saw this all coming from a mile away.

“I’ve always known this is a real — this is a pandemic,” he said on March 17. “I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”

That statement is, of course, demonstrably untrue. But Trump doesn’t care. Because his political career has proven to him that if he simply repeats the history he wants to be true, plenty of people will follow his lead. He’ll blame Democrats or the media (or both) for twisting his words or making thing up. Remember that this is a man who said this out loud: “Stick with us. Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news. … What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”

But the truth still matters. And the truth is that Trump repeatedly downplayed the threat coronavirus posed to the country, providing Americans with false hope when they needed candor and transparency most of all.

 

Doctors in Colorado are bracing for a surge of coronavirus patients as the outbreak moves inland from the East and West coasts of the United States. Meanwhile, as CNN reports, your odds of surviving the coronavirus outbreak are probably better if you live in a state with a Democratic governor.

 

Governor Jared Polis reiterated on Monday that students in Colorado will likely finish out the school year without stepping foot back inside a classroom. From The Denver Post:

“It is very likely that you won’t be able to resume normal classroom activities this school year,” Polis said during a news conference updating the public on efforts to combat the coronavirus outbreak. “The school year hasn’t been called off yet statewide; we’re always hopeful. But districts have been preparing for that. That’s the likelihood.”

Students from many of Colorado’s largest school districts “returned” from Spring Break this week with extensive remote/online learning plans.

 

► Colorado lawmakers expect to get a ruling this week from the State Supreme Court regarding whether or not they can legally extend the legislative session beyond the traditional early May deadline. From CBS4 Denver:

The state legislature reconvened Monday just long enough to go into recess again. Lawmakers adjourned two weeks ago due to concerns about COVID-19. In order to recess again, without calling lawmakers back into session, they purposefully met without a quorum, or a minimum of 33 representatives and 18 senators.

If they don’t have a quorum, they can adjourn for up to three days. Lawmakers are hoping to buy time until the State Supreme Court rules on whether the 120-day session is consecutive, meaning it ends May 6, or whether they can resume at a later date when its safer.

The big question waiting to be answered revolves around whether the 120-day session language in the state constitution refers to consecutive days or if it can be split up by a recess (in this case because of coronavirus).

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Yikes: EPA Blanket Okays Coronavirus-Related Pollution

Fox 31 Denver reports, how convenient:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it will not punish companies for violating some pollution standards because of the new coronavirus…

“We think it’s incredibly foolish,” Collin O’Mara, president of the National Wildlife Federation, said.

O’Mara says if air pollution increases, Americans with lung illnesses will be in even greater danger.

…In a memo, the EPA says polluters will get a break if they can show how the coronavirus outbreak made it difficult to meet pollution standards.

While experts do say that some case-by-case exemptions may be needed to cope with the coronavirus outbreak, giving industry such broad license to judge whether they “have” to pollute because of COVID-19 could lead to widespread disregard for air and water pollution regulations, hazardous waste protections, and…well, all kinds of other protections you as an air-breathing water-drinking consumer do not want disregarded.

It appears the Trump administration doesn’t “let a crisis go to waste” either.

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Get More Smarter on Monday (March 30)

Did you know that it is still March? Anyway, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

► President Trump is backtracking from a proposal to quarantine New York, New Jersey, and parts of Connecticut. On Sunday, he also backed off of his plan to “re-open” the country by Easter (thanks in part to experts such as Dr. Anthony Fauci). As Philip Rucker writes for The Washington Post:

Trump beat a hasty retreat on Sunday, announcing from the Rose Garden just before dusk that the federal government’s stringent social distancing guidelines, set to expire on Monday, would be extended through April 30.

More still — as the number of coronavirus deaths in the United States surpassed 2,400, nearly 1,000 of them in New York alone — the president acknowledged that the silent enemy was gaining ground.

Trump said his decision was driven by the science, but he may have been moved more by the personal — seeing body bags carried out of the hospital near his Queens boyhood home and learning that a friend was now in a coma — judging by the emotion with which he spoke about both.

Trump said he was convinced by data modeling presented to him by two physicians advising him on the pandemic — Anthony S. Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Deborah L. Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator — that the death rate in this country probably will not peak for another two weeks.

Chris Cillizza of CNN has more on Trump’s Sunday Rose Garden press conference:

As the number of those sickened and killed by the virus has soared, Trump has increasingly used these press briefings as a chance to vent his frustrations — at governors, the media and anyone else he can think of.

What he did on Sunday night was, somehow, worse — coarser, more detached from reality — than what he has done before. I went through the transcript of the briefing and pulled out the lines you need to see.

As CNN reports in a separate story, Trump said a number of untrue things on Sunday:

On two occasions during Sunday’s coronavirus briefing, President Donald Trump falsely denied he had said words he had said publicly last week.

When PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor noted that the President had said he did not believe that governors actually need all the equipment they claimed they did, Trump said, “I didn’t say that” — even though he said precisely that on Fox News on Thursday.

Later, when CNN White House Correspondent Jeremy Diamond noted that Trump had said he wanted governors to be “appreciative” of him, and that “if they don’t treat you right, I don’t call,” Trump said, “But I didn’t say that” — even though he said precisely that at the Friday briefing.

President Trump says that coronavirus cases will peak in the United States in mid-April…though he has provided no information or data to support that claim.

 

Colorado has secured major disaster relief status from the federal government. Here’s more from a press release via the office of Gov. Jared Polis; here’s a rundown from The Denver Post.

 

► Dirt ≠ people. Despite what Colorado Republican lawmakers would have you believe, representing large parcels of land is not the same as representing large numbers of people. These same Colorado Republican lawmakers are shaking their fists at Gov. Jared Polis and other public health officials for ordering people in non-essential industries to stay at home to stop the spread of COVID-19. The average person does not agree with House Minority Leader Patrick Neville and friends.

As Aurora Sentinel editor Dave Perry writes:

There’s no arguing the point that this is going to be bad — really, really bad. But Neville, Sonnenberg and others simply can’t grasp the difference between really, really bad and much, much worse.

Having to keep businesses shuttered for months rather than weeks is  worse. Having to watch people die in their cars outside hospitals because no one can treat them is far, far worse.

It’s not debatable. It’s common sense.

Common sense did not prevail in Colorado Springs this weekend as Republicans held a drive-thru county convention. On Sunday, TABOR Daddy Doug Bruce held a “You’re Not the Boss of Me” Picnic in Colorado Springs that was attended by a whole half-dozen people.

 

► The Colorado legislature did not reconvene today as lawmakers had initially hoped when the session was suspended two weeks ago. There’s still no good answer on whether the legislature can reconvene and hold a session beyond the 120-mark in early May.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Minority Leader Neville, Who’s The “Tyrant” Now?

SUNDAY UPDATE: Call him President Backpedal, reports Politico:

President Donald Trump announced Saturday that he would not be quarantining New York City’s metro area, which has emerged as the nation’s largest hot spot for the coronavirus, after floating the idea earlier in the day…

Federal law gives the president and the federal government vast emergency powers in a pandemic, [Pols emphasis] including the ability to quarantine people to slow the spread of disease between states. But it’s not clear how the federal government would enforce what Trump described, and Cuomo and others questioned whether it would be legal.

Just remember, folks–when Donald Trump breaks out the “vast emergency powers,” it’s heroic. Gov. Jared Polis is a tyrant, but obviously Trump is not. Obviously!

—–

President Donald Trump.

NBC News reports, look out Gov. Jared Polis! There’s a new dictator in town:

President Donald Trump said Saturday that he was considering an “enforceable quarantine” in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area due to the coronavirus outbreak, saying the decision could come as soon as later in the day.

“Some people would like to see New York quarantined because it’s a hot spot. New York, New Jersey, maybe one or two other places. Certain parts of Connecticut quarantined,” Trump said as he left the White House en route of Norfolk, Va. to see off the USNS Comfort, a Navy hospital ship that is headed to New York to provide extra hospital space to help fight the outbreak.

“I am thinking about that right now. We might not have to do it but there’s a possibility that sometime today we’ll do a quarantine, short term, two weeks, on New York. Probably New Jersey, certain parts of Connecticut,” Trump continued.

Now before you get your libertarian britches in a twist over what exactly an “enforceable quarantine” consists of, fear not–we have no doubt that the disgraceful number of Colorado Republicans who lashed out at Gov. Polis for his statewide stay-at-home order here in Colorado this week are busy right now working up an explanation for why Polis’ order is “tyranny,” but President Donald Trump shutting down three East Coast states equivalently Makes America Great Again™. We’re guessing it will fall somewhere between “East Coast libs have it coming” and “foreigners in New York all kiss each other.”

Much like Cory Gardner twisting into a pretzel to explain why the 2020 stimulus he’s proud of is nothing like the 2009 stimulus he rhetorically crucified President Barack Obama for, sometimes it would be better to just walk it back already. But somehow we doubt Gov. Polis’ excitable critics will be able to do so.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (March 27)

We’d wish you a “Happy Friday,” but today kinda feels just like Thursday. And Wednesday. And also Tuesday. Anyway, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

► UPDATE: The House passes the stimulus bill. Colorado Rep. Ken Buck voted against the legislation, giving him a perfect 0-3 record on coronavirus-related legislation.

—–

Members of the House of Representatives are heading back to Washington D.C. to vote on a $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill that is in no danger of failing because one Kentucky Republican (and it’s not even Mitch McConnell) is being kind of a dick. As The Washington Post explains:

The House of Representatives prepared to vote Friday on a $2 trillion economic relief package to address fallout from the coronavirus, with scores of lawmakers begrudgingly returning to the Capitol after one GOP member threatened to raise a procedural objection.

With the economy reeling and millions of Americans seeking unemployment benefits, House leaders had hoped to pass the sweeping measure by a “voice vote” that would not require members to show up in person. Those who wanted to could come to the Capitol to speak in favor of or against the legislation that will send $1,200 payments to many Americans and free up large loans for businesses of every size.

If they used a “voice vote,” members in quarantine or who simply did not want to travel would not have to do so. There are now roughly 86,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, and 1,300 people have died just in the past few weeks.

But Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) threatened to raise procedural objections that would require a majority of the House to be present to quash, and so on Thursday evening leadership in both parties began urging members who could do so to return to Washington in order to have the numbers to overcome whatever objection Massie might raise. [Pols emphasis]

Massie may have seriously misread this situation, because President Trump is not happy:

As The Washington Post notes in a separate story, Rep. Massie’s colleagues are not at all surprised that he’s needlessly throwing wrenches:

During his seven years in Congress, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) has established a reputation as a uniquely irascible congressional gadfly — one who is frequently at odds with his own party’s leadership, rarely votes for major bills negotiated with Democrats, and, to make an ideological point, is willing to use the House rule book to inconvenience his colleagues.

In other words, he’s the Kentucky version of State Rep. Dave Williams (R-Colorado Springs).

Just in case you thought opposition to the relief bill was relegated to some looney from Kentucky…Colorado Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) are railing about their own grievances with the legislation.

 

 Eight of Colorado’s 9 Members of Congress are urging President Trump to approve a Major Disaster request for Colorado. Who was the lone dissenter? Hint: His name rhymes with “suck.”

 

► Many of Colorado’s most prominent Republican lawmakers — including Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert and House Minority Leader Patrick Neville — are growing increasingly vocal about their opposition to “stay at home” orders because…tyranny, or something. These actions are bad for their health and the health of their friends and family — and new polling info suggests that these positions will hurt them politically in November.

If you are interested in making specious and dangerous arguments yourself, here’s a cheat sheet to get you started on messaging.

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel and the Denver Post have more on the partisan pushback to coronavirus responses.

 

► Not all the coronavirus news is bad news, as The Washington Post reports from the state of Washington:

The suburban hospital that handled the first onslaught of coronavirus patients weeks ago — a crush of seriously ill and dying nursing home residents that signaled the beginning of the national health crisis — is now offering cautious optimism to people across the United States who are searching for an end to the springtime nightmare: They believe they might have flattened the curve here.

At EvergreenHealth Medical Center, two miles from the shuttered Lifecare nursing home where 35 patient deaths were linked to the virus, officials say their rate of new covid-19 cases has remained steady for two weeks, leveling off at a trickle. On some days, doctors here see just one new case and haven’t seen more than four in a single day since mid-March. Few need admission to the intensive care unit, which is now half full, two weeks after overflow necessitated transfers to nearby hospitals…

…“It is a glimmer of hope,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said. “This is suggestive that some of the things we’re doing together is having some very modest improvement. The things we did two weeks ago are now appearing in our hospitals.” [Pols emphasis] 

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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“Resist” COVID-19 Orders? Politically (And Literally) Hazardous

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R).

New polling released yesterday by the Pew Research Center provides the answer to one of the bigger political questions surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, especially here in Colorado: does the public support the sweeping measures taken to slow the spread of the disease–measures that many high-profile Republicans in this state in have condemned and in some cases promised to disobey?

The answer, overwhelmingly, is yes:

The new national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted March 19-24 among 11,537 U.S. adults using the Center’s American Trends Panel, finds that despite the partisan differences in views on several aspects of the outbreak, there also are important areas of agreement. Notably, majorities in both parties say it is necessary to impose strict limitations on commerce, travel and entertainment in order to address the outbreak. [Pols emphasis]

About seven-in-ten adults (71%) say that to address the coronavirus, it is necessary to require most businesses other than grocery stores or pharmacies to close. A larger share of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (81%) than Republicans and GOP leaners (61%) view this requirement as necessary.

An even larger majority (85%) thinks it is necessary to limit restaurants to carry-out only. And with a growing number of states announcing delays of their upcoming primary elections, 70% say this is a necessary step to take because of the coronavirus.

With most of the various COVID-19 response measures polled, the partisan split in opinion was very small. Around 95% of both Republicans and Democrats support restricting international travel, and Republicans support both cancelling major events and closing K-12 schools at or above 85%. The widest partisan disparity of opinion is over the temporary closure of most businesses, and even on this point 61% of Republicans agree it’s a necessary measure. The one figure that irritates Democrats in this poll, 48% approval of Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic so far, is less important than the lopsided support shown for the strong measures being implemented by state governments. With the benefit of hindsight, the former (Trump) will take a much greater hit than the latter (states fighting the pandemic).

What does this mean for our local politics? In the simplest terms, it means that once again Colorado Republicans have positioned themselves as a brand on the wrong side of the issue dominating the headlines and impacting the lives of every Colorado voter. In a state already becoming more hostile to Republicans at the ballot box in every election, branding themselves as the “COVID resistance” party as a way of contrasting with our state’s Democratic majority government seems extremely ill-advised. Based on these numbers, and especially if the pandemic in the U.S. continues to worsen, Republicans are inviting a backlash from voters in November that could be truly historic.

Between now and then, we can only hope the real-world harm they do will not be too great.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (March 26)

Happy Purple Day, which is probably not what you think it is. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

If you are reading this in Colorado, you had better be doing it from home. As part of ongoing efforts to combat the coronavirus, Governor Jared Polis on Wednesday announced a “stay at home” order that takes effect as of 6:00 am today and runs until April 11. The Denver Post has more on the order from Gov. Polis.

♦ CLICK HERE to watch the press conference announcement.

♦ CLICK HERE to read the full text of the Governor’s order.

♦ CLICK HERE for an FAQ guide about the “stay at home” order.

♦ CLICK HERE to read the public health order.

The decision to issue a “stay at home” order for the entire state came as some of Colorado’s most highly-populated areas were issuing similar decrees locally — most recently the Tri-County Public Health Department (Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas Counties), as well as Jefferson County Public Health and Boulder County Public Health (the City of Denver began its stay-at-home order on Tuesday evening).

The statewide order puts a bit of a lid on a controversy stirred up Wednesday by six Republican legislators from Douglas County who would apparently prefer to become a Sanctuary Virus County. Here’s 9News with more on this shameful political stunt:

House Minority Leader Neville also said Wednesday on The Peter Boyles Show that he feels the orders, in general, are leading to a Gestapo-like mentality.

Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman, also a Republican, said earlier in the week that he would defer to the department to make the decision for his city. But Republican State Senate Majority Leader Holbert told 9NEWS he considered it an overreach…

…”For an unelected bureaucrat at Tri-County Health to put out this order and have no accountability to any elected official, that is wrong,” said Republican State Senate Majority Leader Holbert. “It is, in my opinion, against the spirit of our nation and our state it is against our constitution.”

“I’ve advised them to sever the contract as soon as possible. If it costs Douglas County money, what’s the cost of freedom and liberty — it’s probably worth it.”

Just so we’re clear, the Republican Senate Minority Leader and the Republican House Minority Leader would like Douglas County to sever its relationship with the Tri-County Health Department IN THE MIDDLE OF A GLOBAL PANDEMIC.

At least one Douglas County Republican is not a complete twit. County Commissioner Abe Laydon supports Tri-County Health and says “Now is not the time to politicize a pandemic.”

Elsewhere, Colorado Republicans across the state are pounding their chests about their brave opposition to social-distancing guidelines meant to prevent people from dying from the coronavirus outbreak.

 

► The Senate finally passed a $2 trillion coronavirus recovery bill late Wednesday. As The Denver Post reports:

The legislation passed by a vote of 96-0, with aye votes from Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, and Sen. Michael Bennet, a Denver Democrat. Both Colorado senators made clear earlier in the day that they supported the massive agreement…

…Before the vote, Gardner and Bennet voted against an amendment from Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., to cap unemployment benefits at a worker’s full salary.

In remarks Wednesday, Bennet criticized Senate Republicans for not including a $600-per-week unemployment insurance increase, which was later added at the request of Senate Democrats. He also credited Democrats with adding money for the health care system, middle-class Americans and lower-class Americans.

“States and local governments not only have to fight this health crisis, they have to pay teachers, police and firefighters, even as their tax revenues collapse,” Bennet said in a lengthy statement. “The initial bill included nothing to help them confront these yawning budget caps. It was ridiculous.”

The Washington Post has more details on the guts of the stimulus bill. Democrats had been pushing for $4 billion to support elections in the wake of the pandemic; they only ended up with $400 million.

The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the bill on Friday.

 

► Coronavirus deaths in the United States have surpassed the 1,000 mark.

 

► Health officials are sounding the alarm about a second wave of the coronavirus. As The Washington Post explains:

The 1918 flu hit the United States in three waves — a mild outbreak in the spring, the deadliest wave in the fall and a final spike when the virus returned that winter. All told, the pandemic infected a third of the world’s population and killed at least 50 million people, including at least 675,000 Americans.

One of them was the great-grandmother of Debbie Birx, the lead coordinator of the federal government’s coronavirus task force. “My grandmother, for 88 years, lived with the fact that she was the one, at age 11, who brought home flu to her mother … when her mother had just delivered,” said Birx, 63. “She never forgot that she was the child that was in school that innocently brought that flu home.”…

…The 1918 case study weighs on leaders of the public health community as they scramble to ramp up capacity and spur vaccine development in preparation for a sustained war against covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. “We’re dealing with Cycle A right now, not the one that could come in the fall of 2020 – although we’re getting prepared for it by the innovations that are being worked on,” Birx said at the White House on Wednesday evening.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

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Want a Better Stimulus? Elect a Better U.S. Senate

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Cory Gardner.

The Hill reports on today’s big news out of Washington, bipartisan agreement after days of fraught negotiations on a $2 trillion-with-a-T bill to steady the economy as the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic:

The revamped Senate proposal will inject approximately $2 trillion into the economy, providing tax rebates, four months expanded unemployment benefits and a slew of business tax-relief provisions aimed at shoring up individual, family and business finances.

The deal includes $500 billion for a major corporate liquidity program through the Federal Reserve, $377 billion in small business aid, $100 billion for hospitals and $150 billion for state and local governments…

Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) hailed the legislation as “the largest rescue package in American history.”

“This bill is far from perfect, but we believe the legislation has been improved significantly to warrant its quick consideration and passage,” he said.

In a lengthy Twitter thread this morning, Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado explained the concessions Democrats were able to win from the GOP majority to improve the stimulus bill in ways to benefit ordinary Americans bearing the brunt of the economic fallout:

“Good but not enough” appears to be the consensus view from progressive Democrats and their allies, and though Speaker Nancy Pelosi agrees that more will be needed, what’s imperative at this point is to get relief in people’s hands without further delay:

She said the package did not go as far as a separate House bill, but argued that “thanks to the unity and insistence of Senate and House Democrats, the bill has moved a great deal closer to America’s workers.”

…The Democrats won a long list of victories in the $2 trillion package, including billions of dollars for hospitals, students, the unemployed and states struggling to finance the wave of emergency services. [Pols emphasis]

Democratic leaders in both chambers are highlighting those provisions as they race to bring their members on board. It’s not as strong as the House’s alternative bill, Pelosi said, but marks a stark improvement over the Republicans’ initial proposal — an indication she wants to move it quickly through Congress.

As Democrats drove a hard bargain in their negotiations with the Senate Republican majority over the past few days, they’ve been assailed by Republicans for “delaying” stimulus relief to Americans whose economic lives have been disrupted by the pandemic. It’s important therefore for Democrats to be clear about the better deal they got for ordinary Americans in those negotiations, and also be ready to act quickly to get this hard-won deal to the President’s desk.

Tangible better outcomes through tough negotiations by Democrats also effectively defang criticism from Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado and other Republicans that Democrats were “stalling” a stimulus bill to help American workers. It’s a strange state of affairs to see Republicans urging the swift passage of an economic stimulus package at all, of course, given how they’ve spent the last decade branding the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, dwarfed in every respect by the present legislation, as “Obama’s failed stimulus.”

With all of this in mind, it’s true that progressive Democrats will find plenty to criticize about the final bipartisan legislation. The moral of the story, in the end, is that a better deal was only ever possible in a U.S. Senate with a different composition from the one that exists today. White House too, of course but it in is Mitch McConnell’s GOP Senate that the sausage of this stimulus bill was made. In March of 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic swept the globe, history will record that America responded with the leadership we had.

For good or ill.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 25)

Happy International Waffle Day. Please celebrate privately. It’s definitely time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

The entire Metro Denver area is nearing lockdown status because of the coronavirus outbreak. Stay-at-home orders have been issued from the Tri-County Public Health Department (Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas Counties), as well as Jefferson County Public Health and Boulder County Public Health (the City of Denver began its stay-at-home order on Tuesday evening). The Metro Denver population, depending on how you measure it, includes about 3 million people — or more than half of the 5.6 million residents of Colorado.

Colorado’s most populous cities without a stay-at-home order include Ft. Collins and Colorado Springs. The City of Fort Collins is apparently waiting on Larimer County to make a decision on a stay-at-home order. Colorado Springs is likewise leaving that decision to El Paso County officials.

A stay-at-home order has also been issued for Aspen; visitors to the resort area have been asked to leave.

 

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has been self-quarantining for the last week out of concern that he had interactions with people who had tested positive for COVID-19. Gardner says that he has not yet been tested for the virus, but as The Daily Beast reports, he damn well needs to be:

Last week, Sen. Cory Gardner walked up to a group of Capitol Hill reporters to share information with them about bills he was sponsoring to counter the coronavirus outbreak. According to people who witnessed the encounter, in order to separate the sheets of paper, the Colorado Republican licked his finger and thumbed the pages before handing them off to reporters to pass around. [Pols emphasis]

Several hours later, he was in self-imposed quarantine.

Gardner began his self-quarantine on March 17, and now he’s back?

 

► This is President Trump’s Coronavirus. Don’t argue with us — that’s what the White House is calling it.

 

► Senate and White House leaders have reached agreement on a $2 trillion coronavirus relief package. As The Washington Post reports:

The Senate is aiming to vote Wednesday on a $2 trillion stimulus package that is designed to flood the U.S. economy with money in an effort to stabilize households and businesses that have been floored by the coronavirus outbreak.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced the breakthrough on the Senate floor around 1:30 a.m., after a long day of talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other administration officials.

Senate aides were still scrambling to write the legislation, and House Democrats were expected to take it up no sooner than Thursday. Despite a brief burst of optimism about the landmark deal, they were still dealing with extreme pressure from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to make changes, as he alleged his state needed much more aid.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) breaks down the ins and outs of this debate in an epic Twitter thread. Democrats had been negotiating for more money to go to American families and small businesses, while Republicans insisted on bigger checks for big business. Check out this Politico story for more details on differences between a Democratic and Republican bailout plan.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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President Trump’s Coronavirus

D’oh!

You may soon find some coronavirus franking mail in your (physical) mailbox this week with President Trump’s name front and center…and not in a good way.

“Franking” is the shorthand name given to mail pieces that are produced with government resources that aren’t supposed to work like campaign messages but can be understandably confused for that purpose. Normally you might get one of these mail pieces from your Member of Congress or a U.S. Senator — and usually they come more frequently in election years — but the coronavirus outbreak gave the White House an excuse to send out something with the name “President Trump” in big, bold, uppercase letters.

This mail piece from the White House and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) unnecessarily and inappropriately include’s “President Trump” at the top of one side — undoubtedly because Trump staffers thought it would be a great way to demonstrate Trump’s coronavirus leadership, or something. In this case, the positive impressions that the White House hoped to generate may end up backfiring in a big way.

“PRESIDENT TRUMP’S CORONAVIRUS” is probably not the sort of phrasing that the White House wants Americans to adopt en masse — even if the name fits.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (March 24)

Happy Birthday Affordable Care Actttttt…Happy Birthday, to you! It’s definitely time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

The World Health Organization says the United States could become the next epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. But President Trump is worried that voters are going to ding him for screwing up both the coronavirus response and the economy, so he’s playing doctor — perhaps benching the actual doctors — and suggesting that he’ll soon relax social distancing restrictions. As The Washington Post reports, Trump don’t need no public health experts to tell him what to do:

As he watches stock prices plummet and braces for an expected surge in unemployment, Trump has received urgent pleas from rattled business leaders, Republican lawmakers and conservative economists imploring him to remove some of the stringent social distancing guidelines that he put in place for a 15-day period ending March 30, according to several people with knowledge of the internal deliberations.

The consensus among experts — including infectious disease expert Anthony S. Fauci and other senior officials on Trump’s coronavirus task force — is that restaurants, bars, schools, offices and other gathering places should remain closed for many more weeks to mitigate the outbreak, the worst effects of which are yet to be felt in the United States.

But Trump has been chafing against that notion and impatient to get American life back to normal.

“If it were up to the doctors, they’d say let’s keep it shut down, let’s shut down the entire world . . . and let’s keep it shut for a couple of years,” Trump said Monday. “We can’t do that.”

“If it were up to the doctors…”

As Dana Milbank writes for The Washington Post, this pandemic isn’t about you — it’s about him:

People are dying. Businesses are failing. Workers are losing jobs.

But above all we as a nation must keep in mind the terrible cost borne by President Trump…

…Trump’s reelection depends on a booming economy.

And so on Monday night he made the ultimate gesture of selfishness: Defying the pleas of scientists and public health experts, he said he would reopen the economy in the next few weeks.

 

► Alex Burness of The Denver Post outlines why Gov. Jared Polis has thus far resisted calls to issue a statewide lockdown or “shelter-in-place” order:

Polis has been walking a tightrope, and he will continue to do so: Measures he takes to force greater social distancing will do economic damage, while leniency on business and other social activities and settings will allow more people to leave their homes, and potentially spread or come in contact with the virus…

…With no statewide stay-at-home order in place, some courts have continued packing dozens into single hearing rooms. Parks are busy and some trailheads are slammed.

Polis not only believes that it’s impossible to enforce these and other behaviors out of existence, but he also has emphasized that there’s “only so much any government can do” in response to coronavirus. He’s repeatedly called on Coloradans to exercise personal responsibility.

A statewide shelter-in-place order is still being sought by some top public health groups.

Meanwhile, local municipalities are pushing ahead with their own measures. As The Colorado Sun reports, the City of Denver will be under a stay-at-home order beginning today at 5:00 pm and running until at least April 10:

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock on Monday announced a stay-at-home decree, closing nonessential businesses and banning people from congregating in parks and other public places. The order cuts off the last vestiges of normal social interaction in the city as health officials try everything they can to slow the spread of the new coronavirus…

…Denver parks will remain open for people to walk and hike in, but not congregate or play sports. Playgrounds and most retail stores will be shut down.

Public transit, including Denver International Airport and rideshares, are not affected by the order. Restaurants still will be allowed to deliver food and offer takeout meals. Medical marijuana stores are exempt, as are grocery stores, banks, laundromats, and child care facilities.

Denver’s shelter-in-place order originally included the closure of liquor stores, marijuana dispensaries, and a restriction on construction operations; the order was amended a few hours later to offer exceptions, keeping liquor stores and dispensaries open to the public.

Elsewhere, residents of Aurora are anticipating a stay-at-home order in the near future. Pitkin County and the City of Boulder have now implemented similar orders.

 

► State Sen. Jim Smallwood (R-Parker) has tested positive for COVID-19, but says that he is not experiencing serious symptoms and is self-quarantining at his second home in California.

Also on Monday, Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet (D-Commerce City) announced that she had been misdiagnosed last week as testing positive for COVID-19 and is instead sick with a more common strain of coronavirus.

 

► As Politico reports, the Senate is expected to approve a massive coronavirus relief package today:

Congressional negotiators signaled Tuesday morning that they are likely hours away from clinching a bipartisan agreement on a nearly $2 trillion emergency stimulus package to confront the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic — capping five days of frenetic talks that have consumed a mostly empty Capitol.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are expected to announce an agreement later Tuesday, while President Donald Trump pushes for an immediate vote…

…Schumer and Mnuchin met in person six times on Monday, and their final meeting wrapped up around midnight. The Senate could hold an initial procedural vote as early as Tuesday afternoon if McConnell and Schumer can reach a time agreement.

Both sides were huddling with their legislative staff to review final details, and said they expect to unveil a broad deal within several hours with a vote taking place later Tuesday.

Notice who was NOT a critical part of these late negotiations? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. As The New York Times editorial board wrote on Monday, McConnell is the reason that a relief package hasn’t already been approved.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer appears to be pleased with the negotiations related to unemployment insurance. House Democrats unveiled their version of a stimulus bill late Monday night.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Get More Smarter on Monday (March 23)

Today is Monday…right? Anyway, it’s definitely time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

The U.S. Senate continues to discuss a big stimulus bill aimed at easing economic concerns related to the Coronavirus outbreak. As The Washington Post reports:

Senate leaders and Trump administration officials are resuming talks Monday morning on a giant stimulus bill aimed at propping up an economy hard-hit by the coronavirus, after weekend negotiations failed to produce a deal.

Senate Democrats voted Sunday evening to block the bill from advancing, infuriating Republicans. Democrats have alleged the bill does too much to help prop up businesses without directing enough money to households, hospitals and health professionals. White House officials have acknowledged the unprecedented assistance the legislation would steer toward corporations, but they have said this money would help protect millions of jobs…[Pols emphasis]

…The legislation aims to flood the economy with money, from individuals to small businesses to large industries amid a wave of layoffs and a sharp contraction in consumer spending. It would direct $1,200 to most adults and $500 to most children. It would also create a $500 billion lending program for businesses, cities and states and another $350 billion to help small businesses meet payroll costs.

Senate Democrats are calling the proposed package a “slush fund.” As Politico notes, the Senate is rushing to try to find an agreement on legislation by the end of today.

 

► Governor Jared Polis is taking new steps in response to the pandemic. As Colorado Public Radio reports:

On Sunday, Gov. Jared Polis ordered non-essential businesses to reduce the number of people physically present in the workplace by 50 percent, and more if possible.

He said that while the state was not wielding enforcement authority to keep people at home, there is a more severe enforcement authority that should keep people home for themselves and others: “the Grim Reaper.”

“It is not the threat of you being brought to prison, it is the threat of death,” he said…

…Polis expects private businesses to comply with the order by Tuesday. Businesses that can prove they are able to keep workers at least six feet apart are allowed to keep their workforce in the office…

…The governor also announced the creation of a new team, intended to find innovative ways to address the crisis. The Innovation Response Team Taskforce will focus on creating statewide testing systems, as well as creating services for people in isolation or quarantine such as WiFi or groceries.

As Denver7 notes, Polis is not at all happy with the Trump administration’s Coronavirus response:

“In many ways, I couldn’t have imagined that our nation’s response could have been so slow,” Polis said. “Like many governors of both parties across the country, I’m furious that as the leader of the free world, we’re being forced to close down businesses and restaurants and bars because the United States – unlike [South] Korea and Taiwan – didn’t have enough tests, enough personal protective equipment, or ventilators, to properly manage care for those who would get this virus.”

Governor Polis is also asking landlords and banks to be lenient on tenants and mortgage holders during the Coronavirus outbreak.

 

► Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul is the first member of the U.S. Senate to test positive for COVID-19. Paul may have infected many others with his irresponsible actions, as Amber Phillips explains for The Washington Post.

Senator Paul is trying to defend his actions today, but as CNN reports, he’s doing it wrong:

“For those who want to criticize me for lack of quarantine, realize that if the rules on testing had been followed to a tee, I would never have been tested and would still be walking around the halls of the Capitol,” Paul said in a statement. “The current guidelines would not have called for me to get tested nor quarantined. It was my extra precaution, out of concern for my damaged lung, that led me to get tested.”

Uh…

 

► The Federal Reserve announced aggressive new measures aimed at keeping the United States economy afloat during the pandemic.

 

► President Trump appears to be growing weary already of the country’s (now) aggressive response to the coronavirus outbreak. As The New York Times reports:

President Trump on Sunday night said that the government would reassess the recommended period for keeping businesses shut and millions of workers at home after this week, amid millions of job losses caused by the efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF,” Mr. Trump tweeted in all capital letters shortly before midnight. “AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!”

Officials have said that the initial 15-day period for social distancing — limiting close contact between people by banning gatherings, closing schools and offices, encouraging remote work and urging people to maintain a six-foot distance from one another — is vital to slowing the spread of the virus, for which more than 30,000 people in the United States have tested positive. The 15-day period would end Monday.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Sorry Cory Gardner, That’s “The Story of Life”

Thursday, from his self-quarantined location in Washington after having come in contact with a COVID-19 patient from Colorado, Sen. Cory Gardner asked a question no doubt many other Americans have voiced in the past few days:

President Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner.

Indeed, there does appear to be a channel for obtaining coronavirus tests by the rich and powerful, naturally including sports celebrities, that ordinary Americans do not have. It’s hardly the first time the privilege of wealth in America has resulted in unequal access to a life-saving intervention, but it’s certainly upsetting to all of us who can’t reasonably expect to get a test even with all the symptoms.

The problem, as NBC News reported Wednesday, is that Cory Gardner appears to have asked this question the day after President Donald Trump answered it.

“How are nonsymptomatic professional athletes getting tests while others are waiting in line and can’t get them?” NBC News’ Peter Alexander asked Trump. “Do the well-connected go to the front of the line?”

“No, I wouldn’t say so,” the president said. “But perhaps that’s the story of life. [Pols emphasis] That does happen on occasion, and I’ve noticed where people have been tested fairly quickly.”

Trump’s “that’s the story of life” quote is included in the Washington Post story that Cory Gardner cited in his angry Tweet. Are we to take this to mean that Gardner is actually being critical of President Trump’s dismissal of the problem? This crucial detail, in what’s become a signature move for Gardner, is left unresolved. If Gardner is upset with Trump over blowing off this “class warfare” concern, he has an obligation to be specific on that point–lest the only thing anyone remembers about this kerfluffle is that Gardner has already endorsed Trump’s re-election.

We take Gardner at his word that he’s genuinely worried about what’s happening. We wish him good health.

But even now, Gardner seems unable or unwilling to acknowledge the politically inconvenient truth.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (March 20)

The world looks a lot different since Daylight Savings two weeks ago. Maybe we should change our clocks again. Anyway, it’s definitely time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

Here’s the big coronavirus updates of the morning, neatly summarized by The Washington Post:

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered all workers in his state to stay home, except for those in essential services. The move came after California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered 40 million residents to remain at home. The dramatic measures came after confirmed U.S. cases doubled in just two days, in part because of increased testing. “I applaud them, they’re taking very strong, bold steps,” President Trump said…

…The U.S. tax filing deadline has been pushed back from April 15 to July 15. “All taxpayers and businesses will have this additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Twitter.

Over in Congress, Senate Republicans are pushing to complete a trillion-dollar stimulus relief package by the end of the day. President Trump announced on Friday that he is suspending payments on federally-funded student loans.

 

 There are some new closures and regulations from late Thursday that you should know about. As 9News reports:

Hair and nail salons, massage studios, tattoo parlors and racetrack betting facilities will be closed through at least April 30, adding to the list of “nonessential services” that already included dining rooms in bars and restaurants, breweries, wineries, gyms, casinos and theaters…

…The order from the Colorado Dept. of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) went into effect Thursday, the same day Gov. Jared Polis banned “non-essential” medical procedures, including surgeries.

A ban on in-restaurant dining was extended until April 30. Also on Thursday, Gov. Jared Polis opened a special health insurance enrollment period. From The Colorado Sun:

The enrollment period for uninsured Coloradans will begin on March 20 and last through April 3. People who need health insurance can buy plans on the state’s Affordable Care Act’s individual exchange — called Connect for Health Colorado — during that span.

Coloradans who have lost their jobs — or who may lose their jobs in the coming weeks — and find themselves without their employer-based coverage are allowed a 60-day window after their employment ends to enroll in an individual health insurance plan. There is no date restriction for people who fall into that category.

► As Blair Miller reports for Denver7, relief for small businesses in Colorado is on the way:

The state of Colorado and city of Denver both on Thursday announced initial economic relief packages to try to help businesses and workers affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Gov. Jared Polis announced Thursday that the Small Business Administration had granted disaster relief for small business loans in Colorado under the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program – something he had said he was seeking from the federal government in recent days.

The approval will allow small businesses, nonprofits, agricultural cooperatives and aquaculture enterprises affected by the virus outbreak to seek up to $2 million in low-interest federal loans to pay for debts, payroll and accounts payable, the state said.

But wait, there’s more…

Also Thursday, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said the city was creating an initial relief fund of $4 million to try to help small businesses affected by the outbreak.

The Denver Economic Development and Opportunity (DEDO) will have a program to give qualifying businesses cash grants of up to $7,500 – with prioritization given to the most-impacted industries, like the restaurant industry.

Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) is introducing legislation to make it easier for small businesses to get new loans. The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade is considering diverting incentive funds meant for recruiting new companies to Colorado toward a program that would help current Colorado businesses remain afloat.

 

► North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr apparently gave dire Coronavirus warnings to a small group of people at a private luncheon in late February, at the same time that he was publicly downplaying the threat. But this is peanuts compared to Burr’s real problem right now, as CNBC reports:

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., is facing questions about his decision to sell between $630,000 and $1.7 million worth of stock one week before global financial markets began a historic slide in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

A second Republican senator, Georgia’s Kelly Loeffler, also sold large amounts of stock in late January and early February, when U.S. markets were hitting all-time highs.

Both Burr and Loeffler have received non-public information about the global spread of coronavirus from Executive Branch officials, who have been briefing senators regularly since at least January.

Read that again or just pause and let it sink in a bit more. At least four Republican Senators — Burr, Loeffler, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, and Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma — appear to have dumped massive amounts of stock after being briefed on Coronavirus concerns.

Even Fox News talking monkey Tucker Carlson is calling for Sen. Burr to resign immediately. As Greg Sargent writes for The Washington Post, Burr’s insider trading is directly linked to President Trump.

California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein is also being scrutinized for selling a lot of stock in mid-February, though she claims that her assets are all held in a blind trust.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

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Bloomberg Giveth And Taketh Away

Michael Bloomberg

CNN reports on the what appears to be the final disposition of Michael Bloomberg’s failed presidential campaign–a big check to the Democratic National Committee to help take out Donald Trump in November irrespective of the nominee:

Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaign transferred $18 million to the Democratic National Committee on Friday, turning to the committee to fund and manage the effort to take down President Donald Trump instead of creating a Bloomberg-backed independent expenditure.

The transfer, according to memos from both Democratic groups, will go directly to increasing the size and scope of the DNC’s Battleground Build-Up 2020 effort, allowing the committee, according to an aide, to hire hundreds of organizers in a dozen key battleground states, including Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

When he launched his late-entry presidential campaign, Bloomberg pledged to fund organizers in key battleground states through November, whether he won the nomination or not. The billionaire was unable to turn his self-funded campaign into any significant wins on Super Tuesday — he only won American Samoa — so he bowed out of the race and backed former vice president.

As we noted in this space, Bloomberg’s short-lived campaign bought up a huge swath of Colorado’s top political organizing talent, paying salaries several multiples of what would normally be expected for such jobs–and promising new hires that they would remain employed through the November elections regardless of what happened with Bloomberg’s presidential ambitions.

As of today, that appears to be a broken promise to all concerned:

A DNC aide said that while the hundreds of Bloomberg organizers who had been employed by the campaign can apply for the organizing jobs with the committee, they will not be given preferential treatment and “will have to apply with everyone else.”

Just as they have in prior election cycles, Democrats should welcome Bloomberg’s millions to help them grow the House majority, retake the U.S. Senate, and above all end Donald Trump’s political career. Arguably the money will be better spent by the party as opposed to an independent expenditure committee. In the context of the half-billion dollars Bloomberg essentially set on fire during his spectacularly failed presidential campaign, though, it seems like a pittance. In the end, this campaign was about Michael Bloomberg, and not altruistically saving America.

Here’s hoping all the people he hired on what turned out to be false pretenses have a soft landing.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (March 19)

Hey, look: Snow! It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

Two down, one to go?

The Senate on Wednesday approved the second major piece of legislation related to the Coronavirus outbreak, allowing lawmakers to fully focus on a massive stimulus bill. From Politico:

With Senate leaders vowing to work at “warp speed” to blunt the financial fallout from the pandemic, the Treasury Department unveiled to lawmakers a plan for $250 billion in direct payments to Americans starting April 6…

…According to the Treasury Department’s proposal, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO, the so-called “phase three” proposal would include $50 billion to aid the hard-hit airline industry, $150 billion for other distressed sectors of the economy, two rounds of direct payments of $250 billion each on April 6 and May 18, and the creation of a small business interruption loan program.

The document notably does not mention a payroll tax cut, which President Donald Trump has suggested he wanted to be included in the package. But the idea lost steam in recent days as lawmakers from both parties rejected the idea, citing the need to grant immediate, large-scale relief.

Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) voted “YES” on Wednesday; Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) did not cast a vote because he is currently in self-quarantine after being exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Bennet may have been in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus but has opted not to self-quarantine. Congress is not currently able to conduct tele-voting, but Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) says that he would be comfortable with such an option.

We posted this here yesterday, but it’s worth repeating for a reminder of the Coronavirus legislation being discussed:

BILL ONE
The first bill, which started in the House, passed the Senate, and was quickly signed by President Trump, dealt primarily with medical and emergency response needs. This was the bill that was opposed by only two House Members, one of who was Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley). In the Senate, only Kentucky Republican Rand Paul voted “NO.”

BILL TWO (Families First CoronaVirus Response Act)
The second bill, which also started in the House, deals with issues like paid family leave and Coronavirus testing and health care regulations (Rep. Buck also voted against this bill). Since the bill passed in the House on Saturday, outside groups have been pressuring Republican Senators to add their support. The Senate approved this measure on Wednesday and President Trump signed it into law today.

BILL THREE
This is the trillion-dollar “bailout” bill that will likely include sending money directly to Americans within the next couple of weeks. As The Washington Post reports:

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday said the Trump administration is working on a plan that would send most Americans $1,000 within three weeks and an additional $500 for every child as a way to flood the country with money and try to blunt the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the U.S. economy…

…Mnuchin’s comments are part of the rapidly evolving fiscal stimulus plan that the White House and congressional leaders are scrambling to assemble amid growing signs that large parts of the economy are grinding to a halt. House Democrats, meanwhile, are working on their own set of proposals, and negotiations with the White House are expected to begin very soon.

For more on federal legislative efforts and a host of other Coronavirus-related questions, check out this interview from Tuesday with Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) on The Get More Smarter Podcast.

 

► President Trump spoke today at another Coronavirus press briefing, which German Lopez of Vox.com called “a disastrous failure in leadership.” You won’t be shocked to learn that he made another big mistake:

11:49: *Trump starts playing with ball of yarn

11:51: *Trump threatens to use Marines to invade Coronavirus

11:52: *Trump pulls a piece of meatloaf from his breast pocket and takes a bite

 

► Two Members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Florida) and Ben McAdams (D-Utah).

The first state lawmaker in Colorado (that we know of) has tested positive for COVID-19. Two members of a municipal delegation that recently traveled to Washington D.C. have also tested positive.

 

► Governor Jared Polis ordered all Colorado schools to close until April 17 as part of continuing efforts to contain the Coronavirus outbreak. Polis also ordered a temporary ban of any gathering of more than 10 people.

Most Colorado school districts closed their schools late last week. Polis said Wednesday that it is “increasingly unlikely” that Colorado schools will open again before the end of the school year.

The Denver Post breaks down some of the other “emergency powers” that Gov. Polis could choose to activate.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 18)

Welcome to the Coronavirus outbreak, Fox News viewers; we’ve been busy. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the Senate is moving “at warp speed” (which is about “half-speed” in regular person parlance) on producing a massive stimulus bill in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. As CNN reports:

Two GOP sources told CNN’s Manu Raju that Republican senators are close to reaching an agreement among themselves on the details of Mnuchin’s plan. The conference plans to meet later on Wednesday to discuss where they stand, with one of the sources expecting an agreement by lunchtime.

The idea is to cut a deal among themselves, and then try to hammer out a bipartisan agreement with Democrats on a massive package that could pass Congress in a matter of days. But Democrats have their own plans, so there are hard-fought negotiations ahead.

The bill McConnell is talking about would be the third major piece of federal legislation to move through Congress this month:

BILL ONE
The first bill, which started in the House, passed the Senate, and was quickly signed by President Trump, dealt primarily with medical and emergency response needs. This was the bill that was opposed by only two House Members, one of who was Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley). In the Senate, only Kentucky Republican Rand Paul voted “NO.”

BILL TWO
The second bill, which also started in the House, deals with issues like paid family leave and Coronavirus testing and health care regulations (Rep. Buck also voted against this bill). McConnell is pushing the Senate to vote on the legislation this week — though Sen. Rand Paul is again throwing wrenches — and it will almost certainly be signed by President Trump shortly thereafter. Outside groups have been pressuring Republican Senators to quickly support this legislation.

BILL THREE
This is the trillion-dollar “bailout” bill that will likely include sending money directly to Americans within the next couple of weeks. Politico has more on this third major piece of legislation:

Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) said Tuesday there is a “high level of interest” among Republicans for a Trump administration proposal to send as many as two $1,000 checks directly to individual Americans to help respond to the economic slowdown, a move that could cost an estimated $500 billion, according to GOP sources.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made a pitch for the initiative at a lunch with Senate Republicans on Tuesday, part of an $800 billion-plus package being floated by the White House that also includes as much as $250 billion in emergency loans for smalls businesses being hit by the economic slowdown.

Under the Mnuchin plan, direct payments — on a means-tested basis — could be sent to American via the IRS as early as next month, although even that may not be as fast as some in Congress want.

For more on these bills and a host of other Coronavirus-related questions, check out this interview from Tuesday with Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) on The Get More Smarter Podcast:

Two members of Colorado’s congressional delegation are in self-quarantine after being alerted that they may have had contact with an infected person. From The Denver Post:

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and U.S. Rep. Jason Crow both announced Tuesday that they’re self-quarantining after coming into contact last week with a constituent who subsequently was found to have the coronavirus.

It’s not clear if it was the same constituent, but the contact was on the same day — March 11 — and both men were notified of the contact by the same health department.

“I was alerted today by the Tri-County Health Department that a Coloradan who visited my Washington office for a constituent meeting has tested positive for coronavirus,” Gardner, a Yuma Republican, said in a press release.

“While I am not showing any symptoms at this time, I have made the decision to self-quarantine out of an abundance of caution,” he added.

Crow is also not reporting showing any symptoms but is self-quarantining for precautionary reasons.

 

► President Trump is finally getting his border shutdown…with Canada. The United States and Canada have agreed to close the border to all non-essential travel.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Rep. Perlmutter Talks COVID-19

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii (he’s back!) devote an entire episode to the Coronavirus with a special guest, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County). Our interview with Perlmutter took place Tuesday morning, so this is as fresh as we get!

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (March 17)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day; you’ll have to get piss drunk by yourself this year. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

* For the latest Colorado-related Coronavirus information, go to this website from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

 

► President Trump appears to have FINALLY figured out that the Coronavirus is kind of a big deal. As The New York Times reports:

Sweeping new federal recommendations announced on Monday for Americans to sharply limit their activities appeared to draw on a dire scientific report warning that, without action by the government and individuals to slow the spread of coronavirus and suppress new cases, 2.2 million people in the United States could die.

To curb the epidemic, there would need to be drastic restrictions on work, school and social gatherings for periods of time until a vaccine was available, which could take 18 months, according to the report, compiled by British researchers. They cautioned that such steps carried enormous costs that could also affect people’s health, but concluded they were “the only viable strategy at the current time.”

That is because different steps, intended to drive down transmission by isolating patients, quarantining those in contact with them and keeping the most vulnerable apart from others for three months, could only cut the predicted death toll by half, the new report said.

Trump’s newfound understanding of the scope of the problem won’t fix his public image. As a new NPR/PBS/Marist poll demonstrates, Trump has lost the faith of the American public on this crisis:

Americans have little trust in the information they are hearing from President Trump about the novel coronavirus, and their confidence in the federal government’s response to it is declining sharply, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.

Just 46% of Americans now say the federal government is doing enough to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, down from 61% in February.

 

You can count Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) among those in the Senate who favor proposals for the federal government to bail out actual people:


If you’re looking for Colorado’s other U.S. Senator, you’ll find Cory Gardner in the back of the room.

As The Washington Post reports, the White House seems to be open to the idea of direct payments to individuals:

The Trump administration expressed support on Tuesday for sending direct cash payments to Americans as part of a massive economic stimulus package of around $850 billion, which the White House hopes could stanch the economic free fall caused by the coronavirus.

“We’re looking at sending checks to Americans immediately,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Tuesday at a briefing. “And I mean, now in the next two weeks.”

The White House’s support of this idea, which has won backing from Democrats and some Republicans in Congress, shows how fast talks are evolving. President Trump had initially supported a payroll tax holiday, but said Tuesday that would take too long to deliver relief to Americans..

The eventual price tag for a coronavirus stimulus is likely to exceed $1 trillion dollars, as Politico reports.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve is launching a new program to make sure that credit continues to flow for corporations.

 

On Monday, Gov. Jared Polis announced a 30-day closure of restaurants (except for take-out and delivery services), bars, gyms and other businesses where large groups of people might congregate. As The Denver Post reports, Polis is generally receiving high marks for his handling of the Coronavirus outbreak response.

Two of the biggest electric and water utilities in Colorado announced that they will not cut off service for nonpayment during the crisis.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

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