Nancy Pelosi, Chuckles Schumer and the rest of the Dem wrecking crew surely have the Trumpified GOP by the short hairs.
The latter are clueless about the real imperative, which is to halt the senseless shutdown of the US economy ASAP. So like deer caught in the headlights of public fear, outrage and hurt by the Covid Quarantines, they have blindly succumbed to bailing out one and all; and that, in turn, has opened the US Treasury to a congressional feeding frenzy that would make the New Deal porkers, the LBJ spenders and the Obama shovel-ready folks green with envy.
In less than a month, they have passed the $8.3 billion vaccine bill, the $100 billion relief and paid leave package and the $2.2 trillion Everything Bailout, and are now racing toward another $1.0 trillion interim CARES 2 funding bill to essentially double-down on all the outrageous pork and Free Stuff that was contained in CARES 1, which the House did not bother to even debate or approve by recorded vote.
And, alas, all of this is preliminary to the impending “stimulus/infrastructure” bill where the bidding starts at $2 trillion, meaning that the Imperial City is in the throes of a fiscal bacchanalia that defies imagination. It will leave America with unspeakable debts, political dysfunction and economic debilitation for years, if not decades, to come. The Great Deformation:... Best Price: $2.00 Buy New $9.95 (as of 09:55 EST - Details)
And exactly what is being loaded on the budgetary wagon while the denizens of the political party which is supposed to be the watchdog of the Treasury have their collective snouts buried in the public trough so deep that they too will need a respirator before long?
Well, it’s bad enough that Republicans voted for $1200 per person for upwards of 130 million workers who have not and will not loose their jobs and incomes owing to the covid shutdown, even if an unfortunate 30 million do become unemployed for a few weeks at the peak of the shutdown.
But if you ask what possible reason of policy or equity could justify this $300 billion eruption of Free Stuff, the best you can get is some kind of convoluted Keynesian asininity that is even more absurd than the old standby of hiring people to dig holes with teaspoons and then fill them back up with the same tools.
To wit, we are apparently giving the 130 million workers who are and will still be earning the same paycheck but spending far less because everything is closed (you can only spend about $25 per day on Netflix even if you watch movies dawn till dusk) another $1200 to spend on top of their normal income. Then, assuming they can find a place which is open to spend their extra loot, it is hoped such places will hire the 30 million covid-layoffs so that they too will get back to living hand-to-mouth just like before.
Folks, once upon a time – even in the 1970’s when your editor arrived bright-eyed and bushy tailed on Capitol Hill – Republicans understood fundamental capitalist economics. They did not even have to be told there are no free lunches and that Uncle Sam cannot create production and income (i.e. wealth), but only shuffle it among citizens by taxation currently or by extracting it in the bye-and-bye from future taxpayers via piling up the public debt.
No more. Richard Nixon famously said we are all Keynesians now, and in the intervening decades supply side charlatans like Art Laffer, Stephen Moore, Steve Forbes and Larry Kudlow have layered on the “deficits don’t matter” mantra to justify tax cuts morning, noon and night regardless of the underlying fiscal condition.
So we now arrive at juncture in which the GOP pols in Washington (including most especially the Donald) have meekly and unthinkingly ceded authority to medical central planners and state and local Dem pols to shut down the US economy, while embracing the utterly ludicrous and circular proposition that since businesses didn’t cause the shutdowns, they should be held 100% harmless at taxpayer expense.
Bailing out business is the real reason for this fiscal madness. The business lobbies and PACs are screaming to high heaven for relief, but a fiscally lobotomized and politically gutless GOP refuses to roll back the Covid-shutdown excesses and encourage household and business belt-tightening during the interim.
Instead, it not only wants to pump hundreds of billions into business coffers for the alleged purpose of maintaining paychecks for workers who are already eligible for unemployment and have had their compensation taxed for years to buildup Unemployment Insurance fund reserves, but is also willing to pay any price and ask future taxpayers to bear any burden necessary to get Dem votes for their illicit business bailouts.
That is to say, 35 years of tepidly modest fiscal restraint inaugurated during the Reagan years in the Social Pork Barrel programs loved by Dem pols especially but a goodly share of GOPers, too, was erased in one fell swoop during the midnight madness in the Senate back rooms last week, and is being capped off by even more like and similar slop in the now arising CARES 2.
For want of doubt, we catalogue the worst spending stench below, but just consider the contra-factual. How long would it have taken for business to launch massive recall campaigns against the nation’s shutdown-happy Dem mayors and governors – who have Covid on their tongues but destroying the Donald foremost in their minds and spleens – had the Washington GOP done the right thing and said nothing doing on the bailout front.
Of course, doing that would have required taking issue with the so-called medical experts and infectious disease lobby, but the data which ixnay their plenary shutdown model, which they risibly call “mitigation”, are all there in plain sight. New York is the extreme epicenter of the coronavirus, in fact, and its data as of April 6th could not be more dispositive.
To wit, what’s needed is isolation and protection of the elderly and already medically afflicted populations and an opening of the spigot for any an all therapeutics and palliatives which could mitigate the illnesses and minimize deaths among those who contract the virus (whether the FDA approves or not), not a freezing of commerce, economic activity and social life among the overwhelming bulk of the population which would otherwise weather this new form of winter flu and develop herd immunity.
Thus, of the 4,758 deaths in New York state attributed to Covid-19 as of April 6, 63% of the deaths were among those over 69 years of age, while just 7% of the cases were those under 50.
So we will say it again: The death rate per 100,000 population in New York was 70X higher among those over 69 years than among those under 50 years:
- 3,000 Covid deaths among those over 69 years = 183/100,000;
- 333 Covid deaths among those under 50 years = 2.6/100,000;
Likewise, 86% or 4,089 of those who died had at least one other chronic disease:
- The leading underlying illness was hypertension, which showed up in 55% of the deaths.
- Next was diabetes, which was diagnosed in 1,755 deaths, or about 37% of the cases.
- Other top illnesses found in those who died from coronavirus were hyperlipidemia; coronary artery disease; renal disease and dementia.
Folks, this isn’t the data for Wyoming or East Jesus. This is the epicenter of the putative plague, where upwards of 13 million New Yorkers under 50 years of age have essentially been put under house arrest by Governor Cuomo. And for what? To protect them from a 2.6 per 100,000 death rate?
Let’s be clear. It is not our choice to trade in the ghoulish data on the death rates of American citizens. But when CNN carries the death rate on a continuous screen crawler, which is apparently updated by the hour, you have no choice but to, well, get the facts straight.
So in the first place, New York’s tiny Covid death rate of 2.6 per 100,000 among those under the age of 50 years needs some context. To wit, in the most recent year, the total New York death rate in that age category was 91 per 100,000 or 35X the Covid rate. Moreover, the under 50 death rate for accidents and suicides alone was 34 per 100,000 or 13X the Covid rate.
So, yes, every death is tragic, but what we are dealing with is marginalia from a societal viewpoint, not a once in a 1000 year plague that requires the virtual shutdown of economic life.
Indeed, if we wished to be politically incorrect, we could slam Governor Cuomo for running the ultimate Nanny State gambit and be done with it. Except except…. there are the old and sick folks allegedly being protected by his sweeping stay-at-home orders.
But exactly how keeping young folks out of restaurants protects the elderly with medical conditions, who would now be well advised to stay away from said venues, is hard to fathom. Besides, even the smoking gun New York state data on the high 183 per 100,000 death rate from Covid-19 for those over 69 itself needs contextual amplification.
In the most recent year, for example, the death rate for the New York State population over 69 years of age (1.642 million) was 6,465 per 100,000 or 35X the current Covid rate.
That is, the grim reaper doth cometh, inexorably. And in the case of the four leading co-morbidity diseases that have been widely present in Covid cases – diabetes, heart disease, pneumonia and lower respiratory illnesses – the death rate is 2,800 per 100,000.
In other words, the leading co-morbidities with Covid have a year-in and year-out mortality rate that is 15X higher than than the Covid death rate that has occurred to date among New York’s over 69 population.
Nor are these New York stats some kind of aberrant outlier. If New York is the epicenter of the US corona contagion, then Italy has been ground zero for the Grim Reaper on a worldwide basis.
In fact, as of yesterday (April 8), there had been 18,280 corona deaths reported in Italy. That represented a death rate of 30.5 per 100,000 total population and which was only slightly below New York’s 32.0 per 100,000 rate.
Yet according to the Italian National Health Service’s own numbers and we quote, the aged, infirm and medically vulnerable have borne the overwhelming brunt of the deaths:
“According to the latest data of the Italian National Health Institute ISS, the average age of the positively-tested deceased in Italy is currently about 81 years. 10% of the deceased are over 90 years old. 90% of the deceased are over 70 years old.”
“80% of the deceased had suffered from two or more chronic diseases. 50% of the deceased had suffered from three or more chronic diseases. The chronic diseases include in particular cardiovascular problems, diabetes, respiratory problems and cancer.”
“Less than 1% of the deceased were healthy persons, i.e. persons without pre-existing chronic diseases.
Moreover, the Italian government agency attempts to distinguish between those who died from the coronavirus and those who died with the coronavirus. But in many cases it is not yet clear whether the persons died from the virus or from their preexisting chronic diseases or from a combination of both. The Triumph of Politic... Best Price: $2.56 Buy New $15.99 (as of 05:55 EST - Details)
“The two Italians deceased [!!] under 40 years of age (both 39 years old) were a cancer patient and a diabetes patient with additional complications. In these cases, too, the exact cause of death was not yet clear (i.e. if from the virus or from their preexisting diseases).”
In short, in some real sense, the Covid-19 is not a fatal pandemic which afflicts the entire population; it’s a highly contagious virus that preys upon a limited, identifiable, isolate-able sub-population that could be generously protected and cared for at a tiny fraction of the cost being imposed by the hysterical shutdowns now in place.
Once upon a time, there were actually thoughtful conservatives among the GOP ranks who knew their economics and were listened to by the rank and file. Senator Robert Taft in the 1950s, Barry Goldwater in the 1960s, Bill Simon in the 1970s and Senators Pete Domenici and Alan Simpson in the 1980s and 1990s, among others, come to mind.
But today’s Republicans are simply beltway domiciled fundraising robots, whose philosophy boils down to keeping themselves in office, whatever it takes. So in the face of a statist-instigated hysteria that virtually cries out for repudiation, they simply genuflect to the CNN body counts, or as Ann Coulter sarcastically put it:
It turns out a person with Stage 4 lung cancer and a bullet through the heart will be counted as a “coronavirus death” if he also tested positive for the disease, OR merely exhibited symptoms associated with it (symptoms that are coextensive with the flu and pneumonia).
Of course, you wouldn’t necessarily expect at 55-year beltway slug like Mitch McConnell to investigate the case when passing out trillions to the business PACs was the ready alternative. But last we heard, the Donald’s new chief of staff is the tea-party born, big-government hating, former Freedom Caucus Chairman, Rep. Mark Meadows.
Did he get the Mick Mulvaney Memorial Lobotomy, too, when he got his White House identification badge?
In fact, you can kick any so-called conservative Republican on Capitol Hill and you will get the same brain-dead eruption of fiscal incontinence, such as this budget buster from one of the recently minted Republican Senators from Missouri:
“The circumstances are just overtaking us here in terms of the depth and scope of the economic fallout of this public health crisis,” said Sen. Josh Hawley (R., Mo.), who has been pushing a plan to restore workers’ paychecks by having the government cover 80% of employers’ payroll costs, up to the national median wage, at all firms affected by the crisis, and provide incentives for rehiring workers laid off last month.
Is he kidding?
In the most recent year, there were 84 million US wage earners below the median, who collectively generated $1.3 trillion of payroll. Does the good Senator really mean to underwrite 80% of that ($1.1 trillion) or does he plan to set up a government tribunal to determine which firms were “affected by the crisis” and therefore entitled to Free Stuff from Washington?
Here’s the thing. Any conservative Senator worth his salt from the state of Missouri should be waving the bloody shirt about the insanity of the the plenary lock-downs, not pimping for restaurant chains, hotels, airlines and cruise ship companies that have gotten caught in the crossfire.
Indeed, it was only in the era after the detestable Dick Cheney pronounced that “deficits don’t matter”, and thereby delivered the coup d’ grace on fiscal rectitude, that the business lobbies were transformed into principle-free racketeers and shameless parasites on the public purse.
Still, here are Missouri’s corona-facts as of April 8. The state has had 3,327 positive cases and 58 deaths to date, which amount to 54 cases per 100,000 and 0.94 deaths per 100,000.
Yet this compares to annual death rates in Missouri of:
- All causes: 1,008 per 100,000;
- Heart diseases: 241 per 100,000;
- Lung cancer and other lung diseases: 124 per 100,000;
- Diabetes: 26 per 100,000;
- Pneumonia & influenza: 20 per 100,000; and
- Suicides: 19 per 100,000
No matter how you slice it, Missouri is not the subject of a deathly pandemic in any way, shape or form. Yet this pathetic rookie GOP Senator can think of nothing better to do than to thrust his snout deep into the Bailout Trough along with all the rest of the Dem pols and Republican lifers in the Imperial City.
So we return to our theme: Here is but a sample (annotated in bold by a wag not drinking the Cool-Aid) of the disgusting tribute that the Donald and his GOP minions paid to Nancy, Chuckles and the beltway lifers for the Everything Bailouts which shouldn’t even be happening:
$25,000,000 for additional salary for House of Representatives (blows your mind, right off the bat!)
$100,000,000 to NASA (because, who knows why?)
$20,000,000,000 to the USPS (because, why the hell not?)
$300,000,000 to the Endowment for the Arts (Ah, screw it – let’s do it! They’ll never know)
$300,000,000 for the Endowment for the Humanities (because, not that many people even knew that was a thing?)
$15,000,000 for Veterans Employment Training (for when the GI Bill isn’t enough)
$435,000,000 for mental health support (Man, oh man, that’s a lot of suicide hotlines)
$30,000,000,000 for the Department of Education stabilization fund (Whoa, that’s a big one! Wonder how much goes to the NEA?)
$200,000,000 to Safe Schools Emergency Response to Violence Program (I guess the virus is kind of violent)
$300,000,000 to Public Broadcasting (NPR has to be bought and paid for by somebody. That somebody is you.)
$500,000,000 to Museums and Libraries (Who the hell knows how we are going to use it?)
$720,000,000 to Social Security Admin (But get this – of this, only $200,000,000 is to benefit people. The rest is for admin costs.)
$25,000,000 for Cleaning supplies for the Capitol Building (Seriously, it’s on page 136)
Still reading through this crap?
$7,500,000 to the Smithsonian for additional salaries (Wait a minute, what about the virus?) Peak Trump: The Undrai... Best Price: $12.72 Buy New $43.07 (as of 11:40 EST - Details)
$35,000,000 to the JFK Center for performing Arts (See above)
$3,000,000,000 upgrade to the IT department at the VA (I guess $3 billion ought to cover it.)
$315,000,000 for State Department Diplomatic Programs (What the hell does this mean?)
$95,000,000 for the Agency of International Development (What is this? Let’s keep the money here and clean up the streets of S.F. and L.A.)
$300,000,000 for International Disaster Assistance (Put this and the next one together and we’re starting to look pretty compassionate – Globally, anyway)
$300,000,000 for Migrant and Refugee Assistance (page 147)
$90,000,000 for the Peace Corp page 148 (Specifically to fight CoVid-19?)
$13,000,000 to Howard University page 121 (Wonder what the University did to deserve this?)
$9,000,000 Misc. Senate Expenses page 134 (Otherwise known as Petty Cash – maybe it’s needed to settle all them, there Harassment claims?)
$100,000,000 to Essential Air carriers page 162 (This is OK because the Airlines are going to need billions in loans to keep them afloat. Besides, $100 mil is chump change)
$40,000,000,000 goes to the Take Responsibility to Workers and Families Act page 164 (This sounds like it’s direct payments for workers. Let’s hope so)
$1,000,000,000 Airlines Recycle and Save Program page 163 (A cool $1 Billion? What’s the hell is this program all about?)
$25,000,000 to the FAA for administrative costs page 165 (Not even gonna ask)
$492,000,000 to National Railroad Passenger Corporation page 167 (AMTRAK – a.k.a. THE BIG OLD MONEY PIT)
$526,000,000 Grants to AMTRAK to remain available, IF NEEDED, through 2021 page 168 (“IF NEEDED?, IF NEEDED !” ) Tell me, what are the odds that it doesn’t go unused? – Hidden on page 174 the Secretary of Transportation has 7 days to allocate the funds and notify Congress.
$25,000,000,000 for Transit Infrastructure page 169 (Why isn’t this in a separate bill? We need it, but what’s it doing in a Coronavirus bill?)
$3,000,000 Maritime Administration page 172 (Who knows? It’s a piddling amount anyway)
$5,000,000 Salaries and Expenses Office of the Inspector General page 172 (This office has been pretty busy the last couple of years) No voter ID to get a ballot , and anonymous “ballot harvesting” page 650 (Hmmmm. Does the phrase “voter fraud” come to mind? Any price tag? What’s ballot harvesting?”)
$2,500,000 Public and Indian Housing page 175 (CoVid-19 related?)
$5,000,000 Community Planning and Development page 175 (See above)
$2,500,000 Office of Housing (See above)
$1,500,000,000 Tenant-Based Rental Assistance Office of Public and Indian Housing. (See above)
$1,000,000,000 of which can be used as “additional administrative and other expenses”. page 176 (That’s a billion we’re talking about here – a billion, with a “b”)
$720,000,000 to the public housing fund page 177 (CoVid-19 related?)
$100,000,000 for Community Block Grants for Native Americans page 183 (See above)
$250,000,000 for Housing Block Grants for Tribes page 182 (See above)
$130,000,000 for AIDS Housing page 185. $20,000,000 of which goes to one time grantees, whatever that means page 186 (See above)
$15,000,000,000 for the Community Development Fund page 188 (That’s $15 Billion!) (Only $10,000,000 of which is set aside for infrastructure for fighting infectious Disease page 191)
$5,000,000,000 in Homeless Assistance page 193 (Aaahhh, what’s another $5Billion?)
$100,000,000,000 for Rental Assistance – page 198 (Or another $100 Billion, for that matter?)
An additional $7,000,000 to enforce the Fair Housing Act page 203
Paid Family Leave for Sickness is 2 paid work weeks – page 213
Emergency Family Leave (Now applies to all employers, not just companies over 500 employees – page 208)
Guarantees paid leave to employees who have an in-law who gets sick – page 209 (In-law? Really?)
Opens up leave for someone you are in a “committed relationships with” – page 212 (What if there’s more than one? There could be several)
$1,000,000,000 for more Obama-phones! (That’s right, folks. A cool $Billion. Do you have any idea how stupid your Congressman thinks you are?)
$227,000,000 for grants to States for youth activities – page 80
261,000,000 for grants to States for dislocated worker employment and training activities, including supportive services and needs-related payments; page 80
$10,000,000 for Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker programs (What the hell? Thought this was supposed to be about the virus)
$100,000,000 for ‘‘Job Corps’’ (See above)
$15,000,000 for ‘‘Program Administration’’ (Who would want a program without an administrator or two)
$6,500,000, to the ‘‘Wage and Hour Division’’ (Who knows?)
$30,000,000, to OSHA (Guess they can’t get by on the fines they impose)
$10,000,000 for Susan Harwood training grants (You can bet this money will be well spent)
$1,300,000,000, for ‘‘Primary Health Care’’ (A billion-three? Who gets to spend this?)
$75,000,000, for ‘‘Student Aid Administration’’ (Enhancing our student debt fiasco)
$9,500,000,000, for ‘‘Higher Education’’ (Come on now! Somebody should be asked to explain this. $9.5 Billion? Really? Higher Education? Higher than what?)
As we said, when you have a GOP White House and Senate, exactly what good is it in the face of this unconscionable larceny?
Reprinted with permission from David Stockman’s Contra Corner.