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► Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell thinks that state and local governments should just declare bankruptcy and stop bothering Congress for help. From POLITICO:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday insisted that flailing state and local governments should be able to “use the bankruptcy route” rather than receive aid from the federal government — signaling renewed opposition to a top Democratic demand for the next coronavirus relief package.
In an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, the Kentucky Republican also expressed concern about adding billions more to the national debt in addition to the nearly $3 trillion Congress has already sent out the door to combat the economic and public health challenges of the pandemic…
…States do not have the ability to declare bankruptcy under current law, and modifying the bankruptcy code would likely be a heavy lift in Congress. [Pols emphasis]
Oh, so NOW McConnell is worried about the national debt; he didn’t seem too concerned about this when Republicans were ramming through a massive tax cut for the wealthy.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives is debating today on a $484 billion coronavirus relief package that has already passed the Senate; the legislation does NOT provide financial relief for state governments.
► President Trump
totally agrees with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s aggressive plans to re-open his state. Or he definitely disagrees. It’s hard to know, really. From CNN:
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence both called Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Tuesday night and expressed support and praise for the Republican’s move to reopen businesses in his state starting Friday, a source familiar with the call said. Trump later said the opposite — that he told Kemp he disagreed “strongly” with the decision.
The call came as public health officials warned that Kemp is moving too quickly, some business owners said they would keep their doors closed and mayors said they feared Kemp’s action would deepen the coronavirus crisis in their communities…
…But the President said during Wednesday’s news conference that he told Kemp he disagreed “strongly” with the governor’s decision to reopen some businesses in his state.
As CNN’s Chris Cillizza explains further, it does indeed seem that Trump is tossing Kemp under the bus in a major way:
It’s an absolutely remarkable bit of political blaming — made all the worse (or better depending on where you stand) by the fact that Kemp likely went into Wednesday night’s coronavirus task force press briefing believing that, even while criticism was mounting, he still had Trump’s support to fall back on. It’s like a trust fall exercise where the person behind you assures you they will catch you and then not only lets you fall but stomps on you when you are on the ground.
For Kemp, it’s a painful lesson to learn: Loyalty is a one-way street for Trump. [Pols emphasis] Trump expects totally fealty — he was not happy with Kemp when the governor passed over Rep. Doug Collins for the appointment to Georgia’s vacant Senate seat — and feels no real need to reciprocate. You need to be loyal to him. He will be loyal to you — as long as it serves his interests.
► The OVERWHELMING majority of Americans continue to believe that governments should move slowly in reopening society and are worried more about the health crisis than the economy.
► Denver7 offers more clarity on Colorado’s new “safer at home” coronavirus response plan:
While Gov. Jared Polis announced the safer-at-home plans on Monday, he explained in more detail at a news conference Wednesday about what life will look like in Colorado beginning next week.
Polis used two Colorado analogies to summarize the new phase. For skiers, we’re moving from the bunny slopes to the greens, Polis explained. For hikers, we’re at a trailhead with 14,000 feet to go.
“If we fall down on green, it’s back to the bunny hill,” Polis said.
The safer-at-home phase, Polis explained, is a step forward for some businesses to re-open and employees to return to work. But many of the practices and measures enacted during the stay-at-home order will still be strongly encouraged.
► Looking for GOOD news related to the coronavirus outbreak? Here’s a heartwarming story.
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…
► Another federal whistleblower takes a fall in the Trump administration. From The Washington Post:
President Trump said three times Wednesday that he had “never heard of” Rick Bright, the scientist who alleges he was removed as the leader of the federal agency working on a coronavirus vaccine because he resisted efforts to “provide an unproven drug on demand to the American public.”
“The guy says he was pushed out of a job. Maybe he was. Maybe he wasn’t,” the president said during his evening news conference at the White House. “I’d have to hear the other side. I don’t know who he is.”
Trump’s professed unfamiliarity with a top official tasked with developing a cure for a contagion that has killed at least 46,782 and infected 842,000 Americans is in and of itself remarkable. But it captures in miniature Trump’s strained relationship with scientific experts, who polls show voters rely on most for accurate information about the coronavirus…
…Bright, who has a doctorate in immunology and molecular pathogenesis from Emory University and has spent his entire career in vaccine development, maintains that he was pushed out after expressing opposition to the anti-malarial drug that was being promoted as a cure-all by people in the administration. He acknowledged clashing with political appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services over what ideas made the most scientific sense to pursue.
Bright was apparently demoted for having the temerity to point out there is no scientific basis to recommend using drugs such as chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as treatments for coronavirus — which President Trump himself has repeatedly suggested.
► Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand want to form a new “Health Force” to battle coronavirus and provide jobs for Americans. From Denver7:
In a news release, Bennet said the proposed Health Force will be “one of the most ambitious and expansive public health campaigns in our nation’s history.”
The $110 billion piece of legislation would fund a program for two years that would train individuals to work in health care.
“These workers would be dedicated to combating the coronavirus, carrying out testing and tracing and eventually vaccinations,” Gillibrand said.
The workers would be get 90 to 100 hours of training by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Then, they would be employed at the local level using funding from grants.
This seems like a good idea. Here’s another one, as The Aurora Sentinel reports:
Public health officials say it’s going to take a substantial number of workers to track and contain the coronavirus. The endeavor is one leaders say is necessary in completely returning the country as close to normal as possible.
To coax more people into those roles in public health Tri-County Health Department Director Dr. John Douglas pitched an idea for a loan repayment program for those workers.
Aurora Congressman Jason Crow introduced the bill to establish the program this week with Republican co-sponsor Congressman Michael Burgess of Texas. It stipulates that eligible individuals must either be in their final year of a degree or certificate related to public health or have graduated within the past decade and plan to work in local, state or tribal public health.
A three-year service commitment to public health is also required to earn the loan repayment. Each eligible person could receive up to $105,000, Crow said.
► As The Denver Business Journal reports, publicly-traded oil companies received millions of dollars in stimulus funding that was intended for small businesses.
► Workers are expected to return to the JBS meatpacking plant in Greeley on Friday after the plant closed up for more than a week to assess a coronavirus outbreak. Not everyone is happy with this decision.
► Passenger traffic through Denver International Airport remains 95% below normal.
► Wondering how Colorado schools will operate in the fall? So is Colorado Public Radio:
Weighing heavily on the minds of all superintendents is the state budget and the toll that reduced tax revenue will take on school funding. Superintendents asked Polis to prioritize education when the legislature resumes in May. Many districts are preparing for steep budget cuts, but cannot accurately plan until lawmakers receive updated revenue forecasts.
► Crime rates in Denver appear to be significantly lower.
► House Minority Leader Patrick Neville continues to insist that the coronavirus is overblown by citing statistics that are completely wrong. Elsewhere, Daniel Burke, CNN’s Religion Editor, explains why the “Open It Up” movement is completely wrong.
Facebook is making it harder to promote “Open It Up” protests.
AT LAST: POLITICAL NEWS THAT IS (MOSTLY) NOT ABOUT CORONAVIRUS…
► Americans for Prosperity, one of the organizations funded by the Koch Brothers that was a building block of the Tea Party, is rejecting any claim of support for anti-social distancing protests in recent weeks. But as The Washington Post reports, these protests remain very much an insider-driven process:
With a backlash against coronavirus restrictions generating demonstrations at state capitol buildings nationwide, organizers have framed the protests as organic and grass-roots.
But some of the biggest cheerleaders for an end to the mandatory social distancing that experts say is necessary to bend the coronavirus curve are lawmakers working from within. Taking cues from President Trump, they are using their platforms to encourage citizens to “liberate” their states from restrictions that have caused widespread economic misery…
…Although backing for stay-at-home measures has been relatively robust — in Pennsylvania, and nationwide — there is a stark political divide, with Republicans significantly less likely to be supportive.
A Kaiser Family Foundation poll released Thursday found that 80 percent of respondents said strict shelter-in-place measures are worth it to protect people and limit the spread of the coronavirus, including 61 percent of Republicans asked. A Yahoo News/YouGov national poll released Sunday found that 60 percent of respondents opposed protesters calling to immediately end stay-at-home and social distancing measures vs. 22 percent who supported them.
► State lawmakers won’t return to work for another month. Colorado Public Radio takes a look at what their schedules might look like on May 18.
► Here’s some classic Cory Gardner-esque logic.
► Vox.com breaks down the debate over remote voting in Congress.
Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
► If you missed CNN’s Anderson Cooper and his bananas interview with Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodwin, this is a good way to get caught up.
► The editorial board of The Colorado Springs Gazette published a long screed in which it defends the idea of letting people die in order to help the economy.
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