President Trump signed orders deferring payroll taxes for some Americans and extending unemployment benefits after negotiations with Democrats hit an impasse.Bypassed Congress »
President Donald Trump swooped in Saturday to fix what Congress couldn't. But his executive actions face legal challenges and implementation hurdles.
With congressional negotiations stalled, Trump is issuing orders to try to get aid flowing. But it's unclear whether he has the power to do so.
Joe Biden has a crucial decision to make and the stakes are high for whichever woman he chooses as his running mate.
Cuts to overtime as record numbers of ballots are expected to pass through post offices this fall. The success of the 2020 presidential election could hinge on a most unlikely government agency: the U.S. Postal Service. The Postal Service already was facing questions over how it would handle the expected spike of mail-in ballots due to the coronavirus pandemic, but several operational changes imposed by its new leader have led to mail backlogs across the United States as rumors of additional cutbacks swirl, fueling worries about the November vote.
Americans were looking for "relief." Instead the president promised to defund Social Security and Medicare, said a Florida lawmaker.
Donations to support the president’s re-election have flooded in from a fossil fuel industry that has enjoyed three years of energy deregulation and tax cutsIn mid-June the oil pipeline billionaire Kelcy Warren hosted a fundraising bash at his palatial Dallas, Texas, home that drew the presence of Donald Trump and raised $10m for the US president’s campaign coffers.Warren’s fundraising gusher for Trump occurred after he and his wife had donated a hefty $1.7m since 2019 to Trump Victory, a fundraising vehicle for Trump’s re-election and the Republican National Committee, according to the non-partisan Open Secrets group.All this campaign largesse comes after Warren’s company Energy Transfer notched a major win soon after Trump took office, winning regulatory approval to move ahead with the controversial and legally embattled Dakota Access pipeline.The Dallas billionaire’s ties with Trump were boosted when Trump in 2017 tapped Rick Perry to be energy secretary; a former Texas governor, Perry sat on the board of an Energy Transfer subsidiary before his energy post, and afterwards in early 2020 joined another Energy Transfer board.Warren’s fundraising skills, personal checks and access to top officials, underscore how fossil fuel billionaires and other energy moguls from Texas to New York to Oklahoma, have opened their wallets wide and raised cash to re-elect Trump, after three-plus years of enjoying Trump’s sweeping energy deregulation and tax cuts.Since Trump took office his favorite Super Pac, America First Action, has raked in millions of fossil fuel dollars. The Super Pac has received $1m from the shale oil billionaire Harold Hamm and his company Continental Resources, and another $1m from the coal mogul Robert Murray, who runs the eponymous Murray Energy, according to Open Secrets.The Super Pac has also pulled in $500,000 from the coal billionaire Joe Craft of Alliance Resource Partners, $750,000 from the Texas oilman Syed Javaid Anwar of Midland Energy, and $500,000 from John Catsimatidis, a top investor in United Refining Co, as Open Secrets and news reports show.Moreover, Trump tried to reassure his fossil fuel friends of his support in early April when the pandemic was causing them economic pain. Trump huddled at the White House with a select group of industry moguls including Hamm, Warren and the Texas oilman Jeff Hildebrand to solicit ideas for new federal relief.Afterwards, Trump pledged he would “make funds available to these very important companies”.Like Warren and Hamm, Hildebrand has given big bucks to help Trump. Hildebrand, who runs the Hilcorp Oil, and his wife have given $775,000 to the Trump campaign and allied committees since 2017, campaign records show.Energy analysts see ample reasons why fossil fuel honchos have been staunch Trump donors.“The fossil fuel industry and its leaders will continue to support Donald Trump because he will do anything he can to continue fossil fuel dominance of the American energy sector,” said David Bookbinder, the general counsel for the non-partisan Niskanen Center, which has advocated for more alternative fuels.To be sure, were the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, to win the presidency it would be a sharp break with Trump’s pro-fossil fuels agenda. Biden has endorsed a $2tn green energy plan and has indicated he would roll back many of Trump’s regulatory breaks for fossil fuel companies.Biden also has championed the Paris climate agreement of 2015 that aims to fight global warming by curbing fossil fuel emissions more aggressively. But Trump, who has called manmade climate change a “hoax”, denounced the accord as a “total disaster” for US competitiveness and withdrew the US from the agreement effective 4 November, the day after the election.Biden has pledged that if he is elected, the US would rejoin.Little wonder that Trump Victory, the joint fundraising committee of Trump’s campaign and the RNC, has raked in $9.3m from fossil fuel donors in 2019-2020, while its counterpart Biden Victory has raised a meager $40,465 from fossil fuel donors in the same period, according to Open Secrets.Still, Biden’s consistent lead in recent national polls coupled with Trump’s fears of losing any more ground to the challenger have kept him pressing fossil fuel allies for more funds, and reassuring them with new initiatives.On 29 July, Trump returned to Texas for more fundraisers in the fracking stronghold of Odessa which reportedly was expected to haul in $7m for Trump Victory.Trump’s visit also showcased his oil industry bona fides by visiting and getting a photo op with two CEOs at a leading fracking company, Double Eagle Energy Oil Rig, in Midland where he enthused there were “a lot of big beautiful rights behind me”.Trump’s latest Texas swing underscored its status as a must-win state that went heavily for Trump in 2016 but where some recent polls have shown him in a tight race with Biden.Trump also let his Texas supporters talk policy in a more intimate setting: for $100,000 donors could join a roundtable policy discussion with Trump, and two top cabinet officials from energy and interior.But perhaps to ensure that his fealty to fossil fuels can’t be doubted, Trump in mid-July announced major changes to the landmark National Environmental Policy Act to help speed up reviews for large pipeline and infrastructure projects.Bill Miller, a major industry lobbyist and consultant in Austin, told the Associated Press that while many fossil fuel companies were hurt by the pandemic, parts of the industry had begun to recover. “It’s the kind of industry that remembers their friends through thick and thin, and Trump is their friend.”
Suburbs are becoming more progressive, valuing diversity, and Trump is promoting a caricature of what they really are, strategists say Speaking on a hot, windy afternoon during a visit to the fracking fields of west Texas last month, Donald Trump conjured an ominous vision of suburban America under siege: terrorized by rising crime and threatened by the development of low-income housing.“It’s been hell for suburbia,” Trump declared, touting his decision to rescind an Obama-era fair-housing rule to combat racial segregation in the suburbs, part of his promise to preserve what he called the “Suburban Lifestyle Dream”. To the scattered crowd in attendance, he added: “So, enjoy your life, ladies and gentlemen. Enjoy your life.”Nearly 500 miles east, in the expanse of metropolitan Houston, Democrat Sri Preston Kulkarni is running to represent a suburban congressional district that is worlds apart from the one that exists in Trump’s imagination.Texas’ 22nd congressional district, which is almost the size of Rhode Island and nearly as populous, is so diverse that his campaign is distributing literature in 21 languages. Protests against police brutality and racial discrimination spread throughout the region after the death of George Floyd, a black man who died under the knee of a white Minneapolis police. And Floyd, a native of Houston, was laid to rest in the district.“This is new Texas,” said Kulkarni, a former diplomat who grew up in Houston. “It’s diverse, it’s educated, it’s dynamic.”And it’s not only Texas. From Atlanta to Phoenix, this pattern is part of a longterm political realignment of the suburbs that has been dramatically accelerated by Trump’s presidency.Once a cornerstone of the Republican coalition, these densely populated metropolitan suburbs are turning increasingly Democratic. At the same time, the more sparsely populated exurban areas have become even more deeply Republican, countering, for now, Democrats’ gains elsewhere in the suburbs. The fight then is increasingly for the voters in the middle, the suburbanites lodged between liberal and conservative America.Until now, Trump has appeared uninterested in persuading these swing voters back, alienating them further with the inflammatory rhetoric and hardline views on race and cultural heritage that excite his base.But their mounting backlash to Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his attempts to stoke racial grievance have imperiled the president’s re-election prospects and put his party at risk of being shut out of power in Congress. Trump is promoting a vision of America’s suburbs that no longer existsIn recent weeks, Trump has sought to appeal, with little subtlety, to suburban voters. In one tweet, he vowed to protect “the Suburban Housewives of America” from the threat posed by his Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden.In a play to the perceived racist fears of white suburban voters, he wrote: “I am happy to inform all of the people living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream that you will no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in your neighborhood.”Demographers and political strategists say Trump is promoting a vision of America’s suburbs with aproned housewives, leafy cul-de-sacs and picket fences that no longer exists.“He’s talking about an America that’s at least 40 or 50 years old,” said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution. “The suburbs of today are really a microcosm of America.”A decades-long rise in the number of people of color, immigrants and college graduates, have transformed the sleepy bedroom communities of yesteryear into sprawling amalgams of America’s diversity. There are also far fewer housewives and the overall rates of violent crime have declined significantly.In response to the recent upheaval, Trump adopted a strategy used by Richard Nixon as a presidential candidate during the turmoil of 1968, vowing to be a “president of law-and-order” and protect suburbanites from outside threats.But suburban voters say they strongly disapprove of his handling of the protests, according to a New York Times/Siena College survey. An even larger share say they have a favorable view of the Black Lives Matter movement, which Trump denounced as a “symbol of hate”.Overall, recent polling shows suburban voters backing Biden by historic margins.> Suburban women are not going to be fooled by Donald Trump’s antiquated notion of what they should care about.> > Shannon WattsA recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist survey found that just 35% of suburbanites would vote for Trump, almost the same proportion – 33% – who said they approved of his job as president. That contrasts with 60% of suburban voters who said they would support Biden.The disaffection is particularly pronounced among suburban women: 66% said they would support Biden, compared to 48% of suburban men.“The Trump administration has in many ways radicalized women and moms,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, part of Everytown for Gun Safety, which is spending heavily on political races in diversifying Sun Belt states.Watts was a stay-at-home mother of five when she started the group in 2012, after the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting. She realized then that she had been “living in a bubble” as a white suburban woman, and was awakened to the trauma of gun violence that disproportionately impacts communities of color every day.Watts believes white suburban women across the country, for whom gun reform is increasingly a voting priority, are having a similar realization in response to the Black Lives Matter protests. In November, she hopes they will join Black and Hispanic women in removing Trump from office.“Suburban women are diverse and decisive,” she said, “and they are not going to be fooled by Donald Trump’s antiquated notion of what they should care about.”Suburban women as a force in American politics is not new. In the 1990s, campaigns targeted the “soccer moms.” After the September 11 terrorist attacks, they became the “security moms”. And in 2008, Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee, rebranded them “hockey moms.”.In 2018, suburban women – both as candidates and voters – helped Democrats regain control of the House by flipping long-held Republican districts on the outskirts of Atlanta, Dallas and Houston. In a rout, Democrats swept all seven districts of Orange county, once a fortress of suburban conservatism known as Reagan country. Now in 2020 – less than three months before the November election – Democrats are increasingly confident about their strength in the suburbs, as the Biden campaign expands its footprint in states like North Carolina, Arizona and Texas. Trump won suburban voters by four percentage points in 2016, according to exit polls. Some strategists believe he has an opportunity to do so again this year, if swing voters perceive Democrats as moving too far left.“Suburbanites have not moved wholesale to the Democratic party,” said Tom Davis, a former Republican congressman from Virginia.The affluent suburban district he once represented is now solidly Democratic, part of a political metamorphosis that has all but wiped from power the Republicans who once dominated this southern state. ‘The politics are only beginning to catch up with the new demographic realities’Though the suburbs have changed, Davis said they remain an aspirational destination for upwardly-mobile families and young people, a place where residents expect low crime, fewer taxes, better schools and stable property values. As such, he said they have a distinct political identity as homeowners and parents that still aligns more closely with the Republican agenda.“Trump is speaking to suburbians who don’t want the city moving out to where they are,” Davis said. “That’s why they live there. It’s a statement. It’s not a racial statement – but it is a values statement.”Republicans continue to thrive in suburban areas surrounding smaller cities like Indianapolis and Jacksonville, Florida, which tend to be less diverse and more conservative.Voters in these communities overwhelmingly backed Trump in 2016 and provided decisive margins in states such as Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, where fewer than 80,000 votes sealed his victory.Democrats do not need to win these voters, but they cannot afford to ignore them either, said Lanae Erickson, the senior vice-president at the center-left thinktank Third Way.In a new analysis of suburban counties in six battleground states, shared exclusively with the Guardian, Third Way identified 30 smaller suburban counties where Democrats have an opportunity to breach these Republican firewalls.Using voter file data, the analysis projects, that for example, that in Pennsylvania Democrats will grow their vote total in the state’s most populous suburban county, Montgomery Ccounty, by 28,792 votes. By contrast, Democrats are expected to gain a total of 145,511 votes across the state’s nine smaller suburban counties, due in part to an influx of Latinos.In a razor-thin election like 2016, when Hillary Clinton lost the state by just 44,000 votes, these counties could be decisive.Suburbanization will continue to reshape American politics long after 2020.“The politics are only beginning to catch up with the new demographic realities”, said Stephen Klineberg, a professor of sociology at Rice University and the author of Prophetic City: Houston on the Cusp of a Changing America. “By 2050, all of America will look like Houston looks today.”In that sense, the open race for Texas’ 22nd congressional district is like peering into the future, Klineberg said.There in the sprawl of Houston’s suburbs, Kulkarni, whose father is from India and whose mother is a descendent of the city’s namesake, Sam Houston, is running against Troy Nehls, the Republican sheriff of Fort Bend county, which covers much of the district and is almost equally split among Asian American, African American, Hispanic and white voters.During the Republican primary, which tested the candidates’ fealty to Trump, Nehls denounced an early effort by local officials to mandate mask-wearing and mimicked the president’s rhetoric on the protests. But on social media, he has vowed to “build bridges” between the minority communities in his district and law enforcement.As Houston grapples with the devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis, as well as the aftershocks of the racial justice protests, Kulkarni says voters of all political stripes are ready to move beyond a “politics of division”.“They are tired of the attacks on science and healthcare,” Kulkarni said. “They like the fact that we live in a diverse area. And I think there’s actually more of a consensus now than I’ve ever seen before that diversity is our strength, not our weakness.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the "kindest thing I could say" after looking at President Trump's executive orders was that he "doesn't know what he's talking about."
WASHINGTON -- If he were still running casinos in rough-and-tumble Atlantic City, New Jersey, President Donald Trump's demand about Microsoft's possible purchase of TikTok might be translated this way: I want a piece of the action.In exchange for blessing Microsoft's acquisition of the Chinese-owned social media platform, Trump has said the U.S. Treasury should receive a "very big proportion" of the sale price. If he follows through, it would signal an effort to carve out an entirely new role for the federal government in exerting its powers to approve or thwart business deals with national security considerations.In essence, the president is promising to orchestrate the kind of pay-to-play bounty that the United States prohibits companies from making to governments of other countries under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.And he is playing a role that is common among the autocratic leaders on whom he has often heaped praise: using the sheer power of his office to influence the private marketplace without clear legal or regulatory authority."It's protection money. It's not what the government of the United States should do," said Avery Gardiner, the general counsel for the Center for Democracy & Technology, a nonprofit advocacy organization focused on digital rights, privacy and an open internet."It's scary to think that it might apply in some parts of business and not in others," she added. "It becomes a special tax if your business is involved in social media, but you can only do the deal if you pay the protection money. That's even worse."Numerous legal experts said they knew of no provision in U.S. law that would allow the president, or anyone else in the government, to force two private companies to make a substantial payment to consummate a merger or an acquisition.And even the president's own top economic adviser played down the idea, conceding that it was not well thought out."I don't know if that's a key stipulation," Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, told reporters this week. "It may be that the president was thinking, because the Treasury has had to do so much work on this, there are a lot of options here. I'm not sure it's a specific concept that will be followed through."But for Trump -- who has repeated his demand no fewer than four times in the last 10 days -- the instinct fits a long-standing pattern of behavior that has always challenged his party's usual free-market philosophy.The president berates or inflates companies with his Twitter feed, seeking to interfere in the free market. He wields his office like an economic cudgel, threatening tariffs against friend and foe alike and demanding that government contracts be renegotiated. And he frequently muses aloud about a presidency in which he can run the world as he ran his company -- without the guardrails established by law, regulation, customs or norms."Very simple," he explained to reporters this week about his approach to a TikTok deal. "I mean, we have all the cards because, without us, you can't come into the United States. It's like if you're a landlord, and you have a tenant. The tenant's business needs a rent; it needs a lease. And so what I said to them is, 'Whatever the price is, a very big proportion of that price would have to go to the Treasury of the United States.'"Trump added, "And they understood that. And actually, they agreed with me. I mean, I think they agreed with me very much."A spokesman for Microsoft declined to comment. But in a statement issued last Sunday, the company offered a vague promise that it was committed to "providing proper economic benefits to the United States, including the United States Treasury."If Microsoft ends up buying TikTok or a part of its business, the combined company would be subject to existing laws that could increase local and federal tax revenue. The company could promise to bring additional jobs to the United States, which could increase economic activity and generate revenue. And there are small filing fees associated with the national security review that the two companies are undergoing.Legal experts said there is also no law that explicitly prohibits companies from voluntarily offering a gift to the government, as long as it is not made under duress and the gift does not benefit any particular individual government officials.But they also warn that extracting a large cash payment as a condition of a TikTok sale would undermine the integrity of a legal process that operates with specific, objective standards. That could set a precedent that deters similar deals in the future by injecting uncertainty into the prospect of any big business deal.That appears to be exactly what Trump wants.The federal government has a role to play in a potential arrangement between Microsoft and TikTok because of concerns that the Chinese-owned video app could pose a national security threat by funneling personal information about U.S. citizens to the Chinese government.In an executive order issued late Thursday, Trump banned the app from operating in the United States but said the ban would take effect in 45 days, apparently to give Microsoft time to explore a possible purchase."This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans' personal and proprietary information -- potentially allowing China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage," Trump said in the order.Those concerns have also prompted a review by a special government panel that examines national security threats, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, also known as CFIUS.In the past, the committee has required companies to take tangible steps to reduce the risk that their products or services could threaten the security of the United States. But experts in the process said that there were no provisions in the law that would justify Trump demanding a cash payment to mitigate security issues.The review process has no mechanism, they said, for "side payments," however labeled, as a condition of a sale to Microsoft. Several said the mere proposal could deter foreign investment in the United States."It would be deleterious to the process," said Aimen Mir, a former deputy assistant secretary for investment security at the Treasury Department. "One of the strengths of CFIUS, in the eyes of investors and companies from allied nations that are sometimes the subject of CFIUS orders or mitigation agreements, is clarity that CFIUS focuses on national security and national security alone."It is unclear how Trump got the idea of a cash payment in the first place.Some of the president's advisers had objected to the potential sale of TikTok to a U.S. company like Microsoft in part because such a deal would end up funneling U.S. dollars to China. Why should China get paid for posing a security threat to the United States?To Trump, ever the negotiator, there appeared to be a simple solution to that problem: The United States would demand its cut, too."The president does use the power of the federal government against individual companies in ways that are different than ever before," Gardiner said. "It's very antidemocratic."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company
STURGIS, S.D. -- Tens of thousands of motorcyclists roared into the western South Dakota community of Sturgis on Friday, lining Main Street from end to end, for the start of an annual rally that kicked off despite objections from residents and with little regard for a public health emergency ravaging the world.It could have been any other past summer rally in Sturgis, with herds of recreational vehicles, bikers and classic cars converging for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, a 10-day affair that was expected to attract roughly 250,000 enthusiasts this year -- about half the number who attended last year but a figure that puts it on track to be among the country's largest public gatherings since the first coronavirus cases emerged in the spring.Save for a few hard-to-spot hand-sanitizer stations, it could have been any other major festival in pre-pandemic times."Screw COVID I went to Sturgis," read a black T-shirt amid a sea of Harley-Davidson and Trump 2020 outfits sported by the throng of people walking along Main Street. Their gear did not include face masks, and social distancing guidelines were completely ignored.South Dakota is among several states that did not put in place a lockdown, and state officials have not required residents to wear masks, giving attendees who rode in from outside the state fewer restrictions than they may have had back home.Attendance Friday was on par with previous years, said Dan Ainslie, city manager for Sturgis."It's kind of like a typical rally," Ainslie said of the number of people coming into town, "and the crowds are still building."Indeed, fears that the rally could be a potential superspreader event did not appear to scare riders from attending. Bikers flocked to tents featuring tattoo artists, apparel, gear and food.Health experts say the coronavirus is less likely to spread outdoors, especially when people wear masks and socially distance. But large gatherings like the motorcycle rally also increase the number of visitors inside restaurants and stores. A few businesses in Sturgis put up signs limiting the number of customers who could enter, but most did not.Over the past week, there has been an average of 84 coronavirus cases per day in South Dakota, a 31% increase over the previous two weeks. At least four new virus deaths and 105 new cases were reported Thursday.Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, encouraged people to attend the rally in an interview on Fox News on Wednesday night, saying the state had successfully hosted other large events -- including a Fourth of July celebration at Mount Rushmore that President Donald Trump attended -- without seeing a direct increase in virus cases. Plus, she said, the state's economy benefits when people visit.The state's Department of Tourism has estimated that the annual festival generates about $800 million in revenue.The rally, which has taken place every summer in Sturgis since 1938, commenced amid strong objections from residents. In a city-sponsored survey, more than 60% of the nearly 7,000 residents favored postponing the event.Little could be done to stop the event, said Doreen Allison Creed, the Meade County commissioner who represents Sturgis. Creed said the county lacked the authority to shut down the rally because much of it takes place on state-licensed campgrounds.When it became clear that it would go on as planned, the city said in a news release that changes would be made to safeguard residents from the coronavirus, including adding hand-sanitizing stations to the downtown area. The city plans to offer coronavirus testing for its residents once the rally concludes Aug. 16.While the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines do not suggest a specific limit for the number of attendees at gatherings or community events, they encourage organizers to maintain a capacity conducive to reducing the spread of the virus. The agency encourages people to socially distance at 6 feet apart and wear masks."Attendees will be asked to be respectful of the community concerns by practicing social distancing and taking personal responsibility for their health by following CDC guidelines," the news release said.But Friday, throngs of ralliers parked their bikes and walked shoulder to shoulder along the downtown streets, nary a mask in sight. Police officers stationed at the intersections also were not wearing masks.Bruce Labsa, 66, drove from North Carolina last week to be among the first in town. This was the first year he would be able to attend the rally since retiring, and he did not want to miss it. On Friday, he was not wearing a mask, and he said he had no concerns about catching the coronavirus."I don't know anyone who's had it," Labsa said.Amy Svoboda, 27, who was working in a women's apparel shop for bikers called One Sexy Biker Chick, said Friday's crowd of shoppers had been steady. She said she didn't know what to expect but was happy to see people turning out."We are allowed to make our own choices," she said, "if we get it, we chose to be here."Still, Nelson Horsley, 26, of Rapid City, South Dakota, said he expects there will be a rise in coronavirus cases in the area once the rally concludes next weekend. But he said he didn't feel the need to wear a mask while walking around downtown Friday afternoon. He compared the virus to getting the seasonal flu."I haven't seen anyone out here wear a mask, so it kind of feels like it defeats the purpose," he said, to wear a mask himself.While most residents opposed the rally, some offered their front yards as campsites for bikers who were unable to find a hotel room. But many others said they were worried about the effect the rally would eventually have on the small community.Among those was Patricia Viator, 64, who has lived in Sturgis for 16 years. She said she became resigned to the fact that there was nothing residents could do to keep thousands of bikers from coming to the city. She said she's worried for her family and the town, and she takes several precautions when leaving her house, including wearing a mask."It scares me more than before because we don't have many cases around here, but now this increases the chances of us locals getting it," she said.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company
The executive actions President Donald Trump took Saturday were pitched as a unilateral jolt for an ailing economy. But there is only one group of workers that seems guaranteed to benefit from them, at least right away: lawyers.Trump's measures include an eviction moratorium, a new benefit to supplement unemployment assistance for workers and a temporary delay in payroll tax liability for low- and middle-income workers. They could give renters a break and ease payments for some student loan borrowers. But they are likely to do little to deliver cash any time soon to Americans hit hard by the recession.Even conservative groups have warned that suspending payroll tax collections is unlikely to translate into more money for workers. An executive action seeking to essentially create a new unemployment benefit out of thin air will almost certainly be challenged in court. And as Trump's own aides concede, the orders will not provide any aid to small businesses, state and local governments or low- and middle-income workers.If the actions signal the death of a congressional deal to provide that aid, economists warn, the economy will limp toward November without the fiscal support that hastened its recovery after its quick dive into a pandemic-induced recession.The federal government's aid to small businesses through the Payroll Protection Program was set to expire Saturday. Executives, trade groups and business lobbyists had pushed hard for a second round of lending -- along with new programs to get money to the businesses and industries hit hardest in the crisis -- to be included in any congressional stimulus deal. Trump's actions do nothing to help those companies.Low- and middle-income families' spending power was bolstered in the spring by direct payments of $1,200 per adult that were included in a relief bill Trump signed into law in March. Lawmakers were pushing for a second round of those checks in a legislative deal. Trump's measures will not provide them.The orders will not provide aid to states and local governments, whose tax revenues have plunged as a direct result of the contraction in economic activity brought on by the virus. Without more money from the federal government, states and local governments will almost certainly have to cut their budgets and lay off workers, increasing the ranks of the unemployed.Supplemental unemployment benefits of $600 per week, which expired at the end of July, had been supporting consumer spending at a time when about 30 million Americans are unemployed. Trump's memo seeking to repurpose other money, including federal disaster aid, to essentially create a $400-a-week bonus payment is likely to be challenged in court and is unlikely to deliver additional cash to laid-off workers any time soon. It, too, raises questions even if it is deemed legal -- for instance, whether states that are already struggling with their budgets will be able to afford the 25% contribution that Trump's memo says they will need to make toward the new benefit.Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, conceded many of those limitations in an interview set to air Sunday on Gray Television's "Full Court Press With Greta Van Susteren.""The downside of executive orders is you can't address some of the small business incidents that are there," Meadows said. "You can't necessarily get direct payments, because it has to do with appropriations. That's something that the president doesn't have the ability to do. So, you miss on those two key areas. You miss on money for schools. You miss on any funding for state and local revenue needs that may be out there."The actions will not even provide the payroll tax cut that Trump has long coveted as a centerpiece of stimulus efforts. They will simply suspend collection of the tax, as one of Trump's longtime outside economic advisers, Stephen Moore, has recently urged him to do. Workers will still owe the tax, just not until next year. And while Moore has said that Trump could promise to sign a law that would permanently absolve workers of that liability, there is no guarantee that Congress would go along.The uncertainty raises a host of questions for companies and workers, including a cascade of intricate tax questions, according to a recent analysis published by Joe Bishop-Henchman of the National Taxpayers Union Foundation. (For example: If workers owe less payroll tax, they would owe slightly more income tax; would employers change, on the fly and in the middle of the year, how much income tax they withhold?) He concluded that most companies were unlikely to take any risks."Without detailed answers to some of these questions," Bishop-Henchman wrote, "employers might just steer clear of all of it by continuing to do what they've always done, blunting the desired economic impact of reducing taxes."Outside of Moore and the conservative group FreedomWorks, which cheered the payroll tax memorandum even before it was announced, few economists expressed confidence that Trump's actions would change the trajectory of an economic recovery that has slowed in the last two months as the virus surged anew in many parts of the nation.Instead, analysts and lawmakers saw politics at play. Republicans said Trump was forcing Democrats back to the bargaining table and showing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, that they had overplayed their hands in pushing for a $3.4 trillion aid package."I am glad that President Trump is proving that while Democrats use laid-off workers as political pawns, Republicans will actually look out for them," Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, said Saturday.But if negotiations falter now and aid remains scarce for people and businesses, Trump will be making a political bet: that it is better to tell voters he tried to help the economy than to have actually helped it. Trump is the president, and he has happily claimed credit for the economy's performance.If job growth slows further, and millions of unemployed Americans struggle to make ends meet, he will need to make the case for why the symbolism of acting alone won out over the further-reaching effects of cutting a deal.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company
WASHINGTON -- As the clock ticked down Thursday on a self-imposed deadline for a breakthrough in coronavirus relief talks with no deal in sight, Jim Cramer, the brash CNBC host, had an on-air proposal for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California.Why not try invoking the memory of the late civil rights icon John Lewis to try to persuade Republicans to agree to help the most vulnerable Americans, including "minorities" struggling to weather a pandemic and a recession?Pelosi flashed a forced smile. "Perhaps," she deadpanned, "you mistook them for somebody who gives a damn for what you just described."The comment -- unusually coarse for Pelosi, 80, who was educated by nuns -- was part insult, part dare and part slogan for a woman who believes she has the upper hand in crisis negotiations and does not intend to lose it. And it reflected how, two weeks into stalled talks over another round of federal assistance to prop up a battered economy and less than three months before Election Day, the speaker of the House is going for the jugular.She has publicly heaped disdain on her White House negotiating partners as she plays hardball in daily private meetings in her Capitol office suite, convinced that she has political leverage to force Republicans to agree to far more generous aid than they have offered. She has been unwilling to bow to the Trump administration's demands for a much narrower bill or a stopgap solution."We're not doing short-term action, because if we do short-term action, they're not going to do anything else," she said of Republicans Friday afternoon during an interview in her office after negotiators blew past their own deadline without a deal. "That's it -- like a sucker punch, you know -- 'Let us just do this little bit,' and then you know what? We'll never see them again."Instead, Pelosi is pushing for a sweeping package that includes billions of dollars for state and local governments and schools, food and rental assistance, and additional aid for election security and the Postal Service.All the while, Pelosi has made it clear that she does not much trust President Donald Trump's advisers -- she has taken to asking negotiators to turn over their electronic devices before entering sessions in her office -- nor does she think highly of their ability to forge a compromise. "You've never done a deal," she has reminded Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff and former congressman, according to a person familiar with the talks who described them on the condition of anonymity.Pelosi's strategy carries substantial political risk and real collateral damage, at least in the short term. In holding out for a sweeping relief package, Democrats have swatted away Republican pleas to pass weeklong extensions of the expired $600-per-week in extra federal jobless pay that millions of Americans have relied upon, drawing Republican charges of obstruction.The impasse prompted Trump to take unilateral action Saturday to provide relief on his own with a series of executive actions -- though it remains unclear if he has the legal authority to do so. And it has sown uneasiness even among some rank-and-file Democrats, particularly those who represent politically competitive districts and are eager to show voters their party is capable of bipartisan compromise on pressing issues."We cannot let desperate Americans and small businesses be used as pawns -- even in the face of a president and Senate majority leader who appear incapable of empathy," said Rep. Dean Phillips, a first-term Democrat from Minnesota.On a private conference call Saturday, Rep. Tom Malinowski of New Jersey, another first-term Democrat, warned that a lack of an agreement would prompt his voters to declare "a pox on all our Houses. Congress is broken. Washington is broken.""And that is great for challengers," he added, according to a person familiar with the remarks, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.Republicans have been far sharper in their criticism of her tactics, blaming Pelosi for the lapse in jobless aid even though she included a full extension of the payments in her May legislation, which Republicans are trying to make deep cuts to."Speaker Pelosi has refused, again and again and again, to do what's right for the country, to work together in a bipartisan way to come up with a package to help provide relief in terms of COVID and the economic crisis," Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 Republican, told Fox News Radio recently.But Pelosi, in her second round as speaker and arguably as powerful as she has ever been, has seen little reason to change course. Instead, with public opinion she says is in favor of expansive government intervention and polls showing Republicans up and down the ballot sagging under the weight of Trump's coronavirus response, the speaker and Democrats have been emboldened to press their advantage."At the core of her negotiations are values, and that steers her right," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the minority leader. "It's real. What she says out there, she says inside."Pelosi's hand has been strengthened by the divisions among Republicans, many of whom do not want to provide any additional aid, meaning that the White House will need broad support from Democrats to push through any stimulus plan.Pelosi set the stage for the dynamic in May when -- quick on the heels of the enactment of nearly $3 trillion in pandemic aid bills -- she corralled the Democratic votes needed to approve an additional $3.4 trillion in relief. Senate Republicans waited until late last month to unveil their own $1 trillion plan, and Trump has repeatedly undercut their position.White House officials say it is Pelosi who has hamstrung the talks."It's interesting just to hear the comments from Sen. Schumer and Speaker Pelosi saying that they want a deal," Meadows declared Friday after negotiations broke up with no resolution and Pelosi addressed the news media. "Their actions do not indicate the same thing."Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said Pelosi and Democrats were motivated not by substantive policy differences but by politics. They "still think it's politically beneficial for nothing to happen," he said.It is not the first time that Pelosi has found herself with considerable leverage in a high-stakes negotiation with Republicans at a time of crisis. During the financial meltdown of 2008, as Republicans balked at a $700 billion bailout package that George W. Bush's administration had requested to stave off further financial ruin, Henry Paulson, then the Treasury secretary, famously went down on one knee at the White House to beg Pelosi not to pull her support from the plan."It's not me blowing this up. It's the Republicans," Pelosi told him then, adding bitingly, "I didn't know you were Catholic."This time, though, it has become progressively less clear whether Trump -- who has been more an irritant than an active participant in the negotiations -- even wants the deal that he needs Pelosi to deliver."Up and until now, she has rationally assumed there was some self-interest on the part of Trump that would lead to a deal," said former Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., who joined Pelosi that day at the White House in 2008. "If, in fact, that turns out not to be the case, you have a whole new ballgame to think about."Although she acknowledges political differences with Bush, Pelosi is far more blunt about her disdain for Trump, with whom she has developed a toxic relationship."This president is the biggest failure in our history," she said Friday. "I can't think of anybody worse."He appears to return the sentiment, referring again to Pelosi this week as "Crazy Nancy."While she said she has had productive negotiations with Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary -- so much so that Mnuchin has felt compelled to privately answer complaints from Republicans that he has given too much -- she is more skeptical of Meadows, who made his name in Congress blowing up bipartisan deals from the right, not constructing them. Talks have been "less efficient" than the discussions that led to the first phases of pandemic relief, she said."Mark Meadows is in the room as an enforcer," she said, adding that she was not sure whether "he's a clone for the president or the president's a clone for him."Pelosi said she also questioned the overall approach of the administration, comparing their negotiating tactics to "Sophie's Choice," a film in which a mother must choose which of her children to send to their death.At one point during one of the negotiations, Mnuchin had inquired what WIC, a nutritional program specifically for women, infants and children, was, according to a person familiar with the talks."On any given day, you might say, why am I even talking to these people? They don't care," Pelosi said. "But the fact is, we're there; we have an opportunity to do something."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company
WASHINGTON -- Since the first days after she was elected governor of South Dakota in 2018, Kristi Noem had been working to ensure that President Donald Trump would come to Mount Rushmore for a fireworks-filled July Fourth extravaganza.After all, the president had told her in the Oval Office that he aspired to have his image etched on the monument. And last year, a White House aide reached out to the governor's office with a question, according to a Republican official familiar with the conversation: What's the process to add additional presidents to Mount Rushmore?So last month, when the president arrived in the Black Hills for the star-spangled spectacle he had pined for, Noem made the most of it.Introducing Trump against the floodlit backdrop of his carved predecessors, the governor played to the president's craving for adulation by noting that in just three days more than 125,000 people had signed up for only 7,500 seats; she likened him to Theodore Roosevelt, a leader who "braves the dangers of the arena"; and she mimicked the president's rhetoric by scorning protesters who she said were seeking to discredit the country's founders.In private, the efforts to charm Trump were more pointed, according to a person familiar with the episode: Noem greeted him with a 4-foot replica of Mount Rushmore that included a fifth presidential likeness: his.But less than three weeks later, Noem came to the White House with far less fanfare -- to meet not with Trump, but with Vice President Mike Pence. Word had circulated through the Trump administration that she was ingratiating herself with the president, fueling suspicions that there might have been a discussion about her serving as his running mate in November. Noem assured Pence that she wanted to help the ticket however she could, according to an official present.She never stated it directly, but the vice president found her message clear: She was not after his job.There is no indication Trump wants to replace Pence. Trump last month told Fox News that he's sticking with Pence, whom he called a "friend."Yet with polls showing the president trailing Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, and Republicans at risk of being shut out of power in Congress, a host of party leaders have begun eyeing the future, maneuvering around a mercurial president.Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas was in New Hampshire late last month, Sen. Rick Scott of Florida is angling to take over the Senate Republican campaign arm to cultivate donors, and Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming is defending Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's leading expert on infectious disease, while separating herself from Trump on some national security issues.At the same time, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is attempting to shore up his conservative credentials by pushing a hard line on China, and Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky are attempting to reclaim their standing as fiscal hawks by loudly opposing additional spending on coronavirus relief.Drawing less attention, but working equally hard to burnish her national profile, is Noem. The governor, 48, has installed a TV studio in her state capitol, become a Fox News regular and started taking advice from Trump's former 2016 campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who still has the president's ear.Next month, she'll address a county Republican dinner in Iowa."There seems like there might be some interest on her part -- it certainly gets noticed," Jon Hansen, a Republican state representative in South Dakota, said of Noem's positioning for national office.Her efforts have paid off, as evidenced by the news-driving celebration at Mount Rushmore. Yet Noem's attempts to raise her profile have not been without complications. And they illustrate the risks in political maneuvering with a president who has little restraint when it comes to confidentiality, and a White House that shares his obsession about, and antenna for, palace intrigue.To the surprise of some of her own advisers, Noem flew with Trump to Washington on Air Force One late in the evening after his Mount Rushmore speech. Joined by Lewandowski, she and the president spoke for over an hour privately during the flight -- a fact that Trump and some of his aides soon shared with other Republicans, according to officials familiar with his disclosure.An aide to Noem, Maggie Seidel, said she did not raise the vice presidency with Trump. Lewandowski, who is a paid adviser to the Pence-aligned Great America PAC, also denied that he or the governor ever raised the subject of replacing Pence on the ticket.Lewandowski, in a brief interview, described Noem as a star who "has a huge future in Republican politics."A White House official laughed at the notion that Trump is open to replacing Pence, a move that, among other things, would exude desperation. And regarding the phone call about adding the president's image to Rushmore, the official noted that it is a federal, not state, monument.Still, word of the Air Force One conversation quickly reached White House officials, including those in Pence's office.A short time later, Noem was jetting back to the capital, this time in less grand fashion, after requesting a meeting with Pence.White House aides kept Noem from meeting with Trump again, one person familiar with the planning said. But Pence's office gladly put his session with the governor on his public schedule and the vice president tweeted about it afterward. Noem's aides, hoping to tamp down questions about the second trip, emphasized that she had also met with officials from the Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies while she was in the capital.One official close to the vice president said that Noem did not discuss her Air Force One flight with Pence but used the conversation to say she wanted to help the campaign however she could. The official suggested that the vice president's team has an opportunity for her in mind: helping Pence prepare to debate whichever woman Biden selects as his running mate.Yet one senior Trump adviser has recently lamented to others that Trump could have boosted his reelection campaign had he replaced Pence with a woman, according to people familiar with the conversations. One potential candidate mentioned was Nikki Haley, the former United Nations ambassador who is close to the president's daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.However, Pence has been an unstinting ally of Trump, and the vice president retains a number of allies in the president's orbit."I think we'll win South Dakota either way," Brian Ballard, a lobbyist close to Trump, said.That these kinds of speculative conversations about a different running mate have taken place at all, though, illustrates the depth of frustration in Trump's inner circle over his political fortunes. With early voting starting in less than two months in some states, the president's ineffectual response to the coronavirus has alienated voters and made the election primarily a referendum on him.Speculation has long lingered in Republican circles that Trump could swap out Pence for Haley, partly because of the president's own musings about it.For a time in 2018, Trump queried people about Pence's loyalty. And officials in the administration, including some close to Pence, said they believed that Kushner and Ivanka Trump were angling to replace him with Haley.In his memoir, "The Room Where It Happened," the former national security adviser John Bolton recounts how, flying to Iraq on Christmas night in 2018, the president asked him for his opinion on jettisoning Pence.Noem, the daughter of a rancher who took over her family's property after her father died, has insisted that she has little appetite to return to Washington, where she served as South Dakota's sole House member for eight years before becoming governor."She's focused on being the governor of South Dakota," said Seidel, her senior adviser.The president's transition team contacted her about interviewing for a Cabinet post after the 2016 election, but she was already planning to run for governor then. Some of her allies believe she'd also be open to the interior or agricultural secretary roles in a second Trump term before the 2024 race.Noem's poll numbers have increased after a difficult first year in office. But to some of her aides, Lewandowski, a hard-charging New Englander, has been a disruptive presence in Pierre, South Dakota's small state capital. He appeared as a guest speaker at one luncheon with cabinet officials and pressed the governor's appointees to make a more aggressive case for her, irritating the state officials, according to a person briefed on the events.The governor is now on her third chief of staff because the last one, Joshua Shields, left in part because of the increased role of Lewandowski, according to South Dakota Republicans.Lewandowski has sought opportunities that could benefit both Trump and Noem. He recently discussed with the president's advisers sending Trump to the annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, where there would be a big crowd and where the two might have appeared together again; Trump's aides did not want him in the same politically safe state twice in two months.Noem has been a steadfast ally of Trump and has mirrored his handling of the virus.She has pushed for schools to reopen for in-person classes, denounced mask mandates and had South Dakota participate in a study on hydroxychloroquine, the malaria treatment Trump has trumpeted.It was her star turn at Mount Rushmore, though, that has gotten Republicans talking and been a boon to South Dakota tourism, the state's second-largest industry.Recognizing the president's immense interest in the monument, Noem worked with his Interior Department to ensure there would be fireworks for the celebration, a long-standing priority for Trump. There had been no fireworks there for the previous decade because of environmental and fire-risk concerns.In the weeks leading up to the event, Noem went on Laura Ingraham's show on Fox News to make clear she was expecting to "have a large event" for the president and would not require social distancing or masks.Then, as the president sat watching her remarks in a bunting-wrapped box just offstage, she praised America as a place where someone who was "just a farm kid" could become "the first female governor of South Dakota."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company
The stormy, once-in-a-lifetime Florida recount battle that polarized the nation in 2000 and left the Supreme Court to decide the presidency may soon look like a high school student council election compared with what could be coming after this November's election.Imagine not just another Florida but a dozen Floridas. Not just one set of lawsuits but a vast array of them. And instead of two restrained candidates staying out of sight and leaving the fight to surrogates, a sitting president of the United States unleashing ALL CAPS Twitter blasts from the Oval Office while seeking ways to use the power of his office to intervene.The possibility of an ugly November -- and perhaps even December and January -- has emerged more starkly in recent days as President Donald Trump complains that the election will be rigged and Democrats accuse him of trying to make that a self-fulfilling prophesy.With about 85 days until Nov. 3, lawyers are already in court mounting pre-emptive strikes and preparing for the larger, scorched-earth engagements likely to come. Like the Trump campaign, Joe Biden's campaign and its network of Democratic support groups are stocking up on lawyers, and Democrats are gaming out worst-case scenarios, including how to respond if Trump prematurely declares victory or sends federal officers into the party's strongholds as an intimidation tactic.The emerging battle is the latest iteration of the long-running dispute over voting rights, one shaped by the view that higher participation will improve the Democratic Party's chances. Republicans, under cover of dubious or unfounded claims about widespread fraud, are trying to prevent steps that would make it easier for more people to vote and Democrats are pressing more aggressively than ever to secure ballot access and expand the electorate.But that clash has been vastly complicated this year by the challenge of holding a national election in the middle of a deadly pandemic, with a greater reliance on mail-in voting that could prolong the counting in a way that turns Election Day into Election Week or Election Month. And the atmosphere has been inflamed by a president who is already using words like "coup," "fraud" and "corrupt" to delegitimize the vote even before it happens.The battle is playing out on two tracks: defining the rules about how the voting will take place, and preparing for fights over how the votes should be counted and contesting the outcome."The big electoral crisis arises from the prospect of hundreds of thousands of ballots not being counted in decisive states until a week after the election or more," said Richard Pildes, a constitutional scholar at New York University School of Law.If the candidate who appears ahead on election night ends up losing later on, he said, it will fuel suspicion, conspiracy theories and polarization."I have no doubt the situation will be explosive," he said.Some flash points have already emerged:-- A long-troubled Postal Service, now run by a Trump megadonor and seemingly overwhelmed by the prospect of delivering tens of millions more votes cast by mail with an administration resistant to providing substantial new funding.-- Concern among Democrats that Trump or Attorney General William Barr could use their bully pulpits to raise loud enough alarms about voter fraud to lead sympathetic state and local officials to slow or block adverse results.-- Fights over whether mailed ballots should be counted if received by Election Day or simply postmarked by Election Day, not to mention what to do if the post office does not postmark them at all.-- Fights over the use of drop boxes to return ballots and the number of polling places for in-person voting amid the risk of disease.-- Fights over whether witnesses should still be required for absentee votes in a socially distant moment and what to do if signatures do not match those on file.Already, by Pildes' count, party organizations, campaigns and interest groups have filed 160 lawsuits across the country trying to shape the rules of the election. About 40 have been filed in 17 states by Trump's campaign and the Republican National Committee, some in response to Democratic lawsuits, as part of a $20 million litigation campaign against policies making it easier to vote on the grounds that they could lead to fraud."See you in Court!" Trump tweeted a few days ago to Nevada, which just passed universal mail-in balloting legislation, under which the state sends a mail-in ballot to every registered voter."They are just really efforts to throw tacks in front of the tires to make it so states can't run their elections this time," said Michael Waldman, the president of the Brennan Center for Justice and a former aide to President Bill Clinton.Democrats and their allies, led by Marc Elias, the general counsel of the Democratic National Committee, are seeking to expand voting options, particularly through mail-in voting. They have active litigation in numerous battleground states, pursuing relief on deadlines, signature and witness requirements, among others.Republicans said their own court efforts were aimed at preventing Democrats from changing the rules in the middle of the game."People are viewing it as an attack on vote-by-mail," said Justin Riemer, the chief counsel for the Republican National Committee. But in fact, he said, "it's by and large protecting the safeguards that are in place."Trump, who also made unfounded claims about fraud in the 2016 election even though he won, has signaled that he will not hesitate to go back to court after Election Day if he does not like the result. Unlike in 2000, when the Justice Department largely stayed on the sidelines, Democrats worry that Barr will intervene with civil suits, investigations or public statements, casting doubt on the result if Trump appears to lose. And some Democrats say they are not sure how Trump would respond, with the presidency on the line, to a court ruling against him.Some Democrats even express fear that Trump would send federal agents into the streets as he did in recent weeks in Portland, Oregon. Democrats have game-planned situations in which Trump deploys immigration officers into Hispanic neighborhoods to intimidate citizens shortly before the election and suppress turnout."It is very, very much a concern," said Alex Padilla, the secretary of state of California.Trump's advisers dismiss such talk as overheated partisan messaging. Justin Clark, the president's deputy campaign manager, said states like California and Nevada trying to expand mail-in voting on the fly were the ones setting the stage for a chaotic election."Rushing to implement universal vote-by-mail leads to delays in counts, delays in results and uncertainty about who won an election," he said.It took six weeks for New York authorities to determine the winners of two House Democratic congressional primaries as they struggled with 10 times the normal number of absentee ballots, a case study in the potential for a lengthy count in the fall even if not an example of fraud as Trump has falsely claimed.Clark is one of the party's top warriors on election fraud fights. In a recording from 2019, he told fellow Republicans: "Traditionally, it's always been Republicans suppressing votes in places. Let's start protecting our voters."Republicans, he said, should be more aggressive."Let's start playing offense a little bit," he said then. "That's what you're going to see in 2020. It's going to be a much bigger program, a much more aggressive program, a much better-funded program."He later said he was referring to false accusations made against Republicans. A federal judge in 2018 lifted a consent decree in place since 1982 that barred the Republican National Committee from certain so-called ballot security efforts.Asked about those comments, Clark said: "Democrats have always accused Republicans of voter suppression. The fact of the matter is all Democrats have done this year is pushed crazy voting laws."The Trump team has also tried to halt another pillar of absentee voting -- the drop box. In 2018 in Colorado, one of five states that already votes nearly entirely by mail, 75% of ballots were returned through a drop box or at a polling place. In Pennsylvania, the Trump campaign sued against expanding the use of drop boxes, an action that has concerned election officials across the country.Jena Griswold, the secretary of state of Colorado, said the president's attacks on the Postal Service and his refusal to devote enough resources to fix its problems showed his disingenuous motives."You do all that and then you attack drop boxes, the alternative to voting safely, it's a pattern of voter suppression," she said. "It's a pattern of voter suppression and I just think it's really reprehensible."Others are looking to head off disqualifying ballots over procedural issues like postmarks and the date of receipt."Voting shouldn't be a game of gotcha," said Ann Jacobs, the chairwoman of the Wisconsin Elections Commission.The Help America Vote Act, passed on large bipartisan votes in 2002 in response to the Florida recount, was meant to help states upgrade and standardize voting procedures. But it gives the attorney general the power to file civil suits to enforce its provisions, and some critics said Barr could use that to step in.Some Democrats said they were less worried about direct intervention by Trump or Barr, but said they could use their positions to prod sympathetic state and local officials to block votes while fostering a narrative undercutting the credibility of a vote count going against the president."The president has very little, if any, power with how elections are conducted," said Elias, the Democratic lawyer. "Trump's power is that he has no shame and that shamelessness has infected his entire political party."He added, "You cannot imagine the party of George Bush or of John McCain or Mitt Romney or even Reince Priebus saying out loud the things Donald Trump screams out loud on Twitter, in the Oval Office and the Rose Garden on daily and weekly basis."With the prospect of an extended and messy count lasting long past Election Day, new attention is focusing on deadlines set by federal law. Under the so-called safe harbor provision, states have until Dec. 8 to resolve disputes over the results, meaning only five weeks -- the same deadline that led to the Florida recount being called off in 2000 with George W. Bush in the lead.Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., warning about "a nightmare scenario for our nation," introduced legislation Thursday extending that deadline to Jan. 1, giving states 3 1/2 more weeks to count. The Electoral College would then meet Jan. 2 instead of Dec. 14, still in time to provide their results to Congress to ratify the outcome Jan. 6 as scheduled.In the end, it may depend on how close the count really is.If "it's clear one candidate or the other has a clear majority in the Electoral College, then I don't think there's much Trump could do if he's the loser except to complain," said Trevor Potter, the president of the Campaign Legal Center and former chairman of the Federal Election Commission. "But if it's close, then I think there is the potential for lots of mischief."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company
Pelosi said Trump's executive orders failed to accomplish the administration's own stated goals.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday urged a restart of congressional talks on extending coronavirus aid, saying executive actions taken by President Donald Trump a day earlier would have little immediate impact on Americans facing economic distress amid the pandemic. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, meanwhile, left the door open to resuming negotiations, saying he would consider any new proposal from Democrats and encouraged a compromise bill on areas of agreement such as food assistance. Both sides appeared willing to consider a narrower deal that would extend aid until the end of the year and then revisit the need for more federal assistance in January, after November's election.
White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow appeared extremely confused by the executive actions President Donald Trump signed over the weekend to extend unemployment benefits, repeatedly claiming on Sunday that out-of-work Americans will receive far more money Trump’s orders say.Amid a stalemate between Democrats and Republicans on coronavirus stimulus talks, the president attempted to do a potentially illegal end-around by issuing a series of orders from his New Jersey golf course. One action extended the weekly unemployment bonus, reducing the amount to $400 and requiring states to play 25 percent of the benefits. It is unclear how many states will be able to afford to pay their share of the bonus.During a lengthy and contentious CNN interview on Sunday morning, Kudlow immediately insisted that the order would place at least twice as much cash as the order claims, leaving State of the Union host Dana Bash puzzled and bewildered.“We’ve tried to get it through the Democratic House for, I don’t know, two or three times. And it’s going to be a form of economic assistance, probably you’ll get $800 total, federal and state,” Kudlow declared. “And if we get it going September 1st, which is what the deadline looks like, that’ll probably give the workforce an increase in wages.”Bash, meanwhile, asked about the new $800 amount, prompting Kudlow to suddenly increase it another $400.“$1,200. Well, at a minimum, we will put in 300 bucks and the states will continue with their 400 bucks,” he exclaimed. “But I think all they have to do is put up an extra dollar and we’ll be able to throw in the extra $100. So it should be — may not be in every case because, as you know, we’re talking averages. Some states higher, some states lower. But on average, Dana, it’ll run to about $800.”The CNN host pushed back, pointing out the Trump aide was “talking about some other money that I don’t know about” while noting the executive action says $400 with the states kicking in $100.“Well, we will stand ready to repurpose if states put in a little bit more is all it amounts to. Right now that number’s around $700,” Kudlow replied. “I think they’ll get to 800. Some states can get positive 800. The key point here is that it’s a wage increase, Dana, of about $1,200 for the last four months of the year. That’s a big pay hike.”After providing viewers with a “reality check,” Bash eventually pivoted to the legality of the order, reminding Kudlow that he has previously said that only Congress could extend the unemployment benefits, prompting the White House official to claim he’s “not a lawyer” and he “probably spoke out of turn there.”After Kudlow once again insisted out-of-work Americans would receive $1,200, Bash interjected: “You keep saying $1,200 per person. Are you talking about in addition to the unemployment that they’re already getting?”“Oh, no. That’s the payroll — I beg your pardon. $1,200 will come from the payroll tax,” Kudlow responded, referencing the president’s claim that he’ll establish a payroll tax holiday through the end of the year.“Okay. We’re going to get to that,” Bash said. “Because there’s a lot of numbers here and it’s a little confusing.”Kudlow then asserted once more that unemployed workers will receive $800 in additional benefits, prompting Bash to ask if he means $800 or $400.“It should be $800. If the states step up, we’re prepared to match, that should come out $400 federal, $400 states,” he replied, despite the executive order saying no such thing.“We’ll move on because I think this is not what the president said and it’s a bit confusing, and I think the fact that it’s not entirely known is very telling,” Bash noted, essentially throwing up her hands.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
The vast majority of voters in these two states say things in the U.S. are going badly. They think Joe Biden would do a better job of handling coronavirus by significant margins.
Watch: Donald Trump ends press conference in New Jersey after CBS News' Paula Reid told him that he was making a false claim.
Casino mogul and Republican Party donor Sheldon Adelson has earned the nickname, "Trump's Patron-in-Chief."
It is far from certain that Twitter would be able to outbid Microsoft Corp and complete such a transformative deal in the 45 days that U.S. President Donald Trump has given ByteDance to agree to a sale, the sources said on Saturday. The news of Twitter and TikTok being in preliminary talks and Microsoft still being seen as the front-runner in bidding for the app's U.S. operations was reported earlier by the Wall Street Journal.
U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Saturday directing the Education Department to extend an interest-free payment pause for 40 million student loan borrowers until at least the end of 2020.
President Donald Trump made the move after Congress failed to make a deal. But it's unclear whether he can since Congress holds the spending power.
“He’s not a radical. But he is running on the most liberal policy platform of any Democratic candidate in modern history.”
“Public opinion has been shifting leftward, and Biden’s thinking has shifted with it.”
“Biden shows that he’s more moderate than some in his party.”
“Biden has always been a creature of his time, and the COVID-19 crisis could force him to veer further left.”
“Liberal activists have lauded the campaign’s outreach to progressives.”