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.
* For the latest Colorado-related Coronavirus information, go to this website from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
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:
NEWS from me: The “send people money” bids are ramping up in the Senate. Bennet/Booker/Brown want to make $2k immediate payment to all adults/kids in USA, with more scheduled in months to come if crisis persists. Up to $4,500/person for this year alone: https://t.co/Hl3R6H4cEu
— Jim Tankersley (@jimtankersley) March 17, 2020
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…
SERIOUSLY, THERE WILL BE NON-CORONAVIRUS NEWS MOMENTARILY…
► Dana Milbank of The Washington Post sees a potential silver lining in the Coronavirus crisis:
Trump won’t bring about the repair and recovery of our way of governing. He can’t. This crisis has only highlighted his ignorance, his hucksterism and his incompetence. The White House chaos brings to mind Eliot Cohen’s prophetic words from November 2016 when the national-security expert warned fellow conservatives joining the Trump administration they would find “rabble-rousers and demagogues, abetted by people out of their depth and unfit for the jobs they will hold, gripped by grievance, resentment and lurking insecurity. Their mistakes — because there will be mistakes — will be exceptional.”
Now it’s time to pray for Trump, and for Vice President Pence, and for in-over-his-head Jared Kushner. For now, they are the leaders we have.
But as we contemplate economic collapse, mass death and the fracturing of our way of life, let’s also resolve to rebuild our political system so this never happens again. [Pols emphasis]
► Statewide testing for students in Colorado has been suspended. According to a press release from the Colorado Department of Education:
The administration of end-of-the-year assessments, including the Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS), will be paused for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year due to extensive school closures throughout Colorado to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Colorado Education Commissioner Katy Anthes announced today.
“With the extraordinary actions we are taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it’s clear that we need to press pause on our CMAS tests this year,” Commissioner Anthes said. “Students and educators need to feel a sense of stability and normalcy before state tests can be administered and produce valid results. This also means we plan to pause our school and district state accountability system as it relates to state assessments for a year.”
CDE is working with The College Board to generate possible solutions for the administration of the PSAT and SAT tests, which offer unique roles in Colorado’s system in terms of scholarships and college entrance. Additional information will come from CDE as it becomes available.
► The Center for Western Priorities is calling on the federal government to pause Interior Department hearings on land and mineral use. From a press release:
The Interior Department is currently moving forward with numerous public comment periods, oil and gas lease sales, and major policy changes, including regulations to permanently weaken enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. These efforts come as the country is fighting to respond to the novel coronavirus, with Americans focused on taking care of their families and loved ones. In response, the Center for Western Priorities released the following statement from Policy Director Jesse Prentice-Dunn:
“The Interior Department should immediately suspend ongoing public comment periods, halt upcoming oil and gas lease sales, and delay new policy proposals. Americans should be focused on protecting the health and wellbeing of themselves and their families, not fighting back more attempts to weaken protections for public lands and wildlife.
“The Trump administration has already gone to extraordinary lengths to stifle and ignore public input to enact its drill everywhere agenda. Ramming through major policies while the country battles a global pandemic would only add to its legacy of corporate charity and environmental destruction.”
► Many courtrooms in Colorado are temporarily suspending operations.
► Colorado elected officials are wrestling with the problem of holding (or not holding) public meetings during the Coronavirus outbreak. Some municipalities, like the City and County of Broomfield, are closing altogether.
► First Son-in-Law Jared Kushner is getting a nice view from underneath the bus.
HERE IT IS: POLITICAL NEWS THAT IS NOT ABOUT CORONAVIRUS…
► Today is Primary Election day in
four three states. As Politico explains:
While some future voting has been postponed because of the burgeoning outbreak of coronavirus across the U.S., primaries in Arizona, Florida and Illinois are still on for Tuesday. Polling places in Ohio, which was set to vote Tuesday, have been closed down by public health officials after the governor pushed to delay the primary amid the public health crisis.
Despite that, think of the vote as Super Tuesday, Jr.: The 441 delegates up for grabs in the three states still voting today makes it the third-largest delegate haul on the calendar, behind only March 3 and the slate of primaries planned for April 28.
NBC News has more on the confusion in Ohio:
Ohio’s Tuesday primary was called off at the last minute on Monday night due to a health emergency posed by the coronavirus.
The election was thrust into chaos on Monday after Gov. Mike DeWine said the state would not open polls because of the coronavirus outbreak. His comments come after a judge declined to postpone the contest until June…
…The Ohio secretary of state’s office said all voters who have already cast early ballots or voted by mail will still have their ballots count, whether or not the election is delayed.
The Washington Post notes the strange precedent being set in Ohio and worries about the ramifications.
► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner is featured in the latest issue of Playboy magazine — no, not like that — in a long article that is generally not good for the Yuma Republican. Writer Matt Laslo found that trying to talk to Gardner about anything is pretty difficult:
Numerous local journalists have warned me that the senator avoids the press, and when you google “Cory Gardner reporters” the top hits include “dodges,” “won’t say” and “declines.” His staff notoriously announces events with just hours’ notice, claiming accessibility while screwing understaffed newsrooms left scrambling to cover him. After the senator went nearly 500 days without a town hall, fed-up activists sent a “Cardboard Cory” cutout on a statewide bus tour to meet with constituents. Democrats paint Gardner as a shorter Donald Trump. There’s lots to discuss, but he’s not eager to talk.
I was in two of Gardner’s private meetings earlier, including one at a Denver passport office, which State Department employees wouldn’t let me record. Later, my allotted 10-minute interview stretched to 15 after I hopped into Gardner’s elevator. We talked about foreign policy because that was his focus. His staff even brought me to a gathering of the nation’s top defense contractors and climate-denying Armed Services Committee chair Senator Jim Inhofe, who quietly informed these pillars of the military-industrial complex that their world is dependent on Gardner’s election this fall. (Wink wink, cut the man a check already, was what I heard.)…
…Later it hits me: All they scheduled over my four days here were two private events and a brief interview. But PLAYBOY flew me west to cover an issue that never came up at their handpicked meetings, which is why I’m now basically crashing a party his team never told me about.
► Former Vice President Joe Biden is still the frontrunner for the Democratic Presidential nomination. On Tuesday, it was announced that Biden has been granted Secret Service protection.
► So, uh, about that “conservation roundtable” thing?
► The U.S. Senate campaign for Democrat John Hickenlooper announced that Hick has qualified for the June Primary ballot through the petition process.
Today is the deadline for candidates to submit petition signatures to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.
► Two Colorado counties are joining a statewide lawsuit from mainly rural areas complaining about new oil and gas air-quality rules.
► Colorado Public Radio looks at the local economic benefits if Colorado Springs becomes the home of the new Space Force military branch.
Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The ongoing threat posed by the coronavirus crisis is shining a bright light on our politicians. Some, like Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, are showing their leadership mettle. Others are Devin Nunes.
► Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman would probably like a do-over.
► At least he’s not your Congressman and State Republican Party Chairman…oh, wait.