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Politics

Trump Humiliated After Canceling Plan To Attend PA Election Fraud Hearing


Trump’s big plan to show at a Republican-led PA Senate hearing on election fraud has flopped as the president has canceled his trip.

Via the White House Pool Report:

Rudy Giuliani wasn’t able to come on the trip with Trump because two people that attended his most recent press conference with him got coronavirus.

Trump’s plan, it appears was to make a big splash with Rudy and attend the hearing to make the claim that the election was stolen from him, but instead, Trump is going to continue sulking in the White House until he goes off to his Florida club at some point this holiday season.

Trump was going to make an election fraud last stand, but instead, it was another humiliating defeat for a president who has been nothing but losing for more than three weeks.

For more discussion about this story join our Rachel Maddow and MSNBC group.

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Politics

Trump Is Said to Plan Pardon of Flynn


President Trump has told aides that he plans to pardon his former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn and that it is one of a string of pardons he plans to issue before leaving office, a person familiar with the discussions said on Tuesday.

Mr. Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, twice pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about his conversations with a Russian diplomat during the presidential transition in late 2016 and early 2017. He was the only former White House official to plead guilty in the inquiry led by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russia’s election interference.

In May, the Justice Department sought to withdraw its charges against Mr. Flynn. That move has since been tied up in federal court, challenged by the judge who presided over Mr. Flynn’s case, Emmet G. Sullivan.

Mr. Trump’s plans were reported earlier by Axios.

Mr. Flynn, 61, served just 24 days as Mr. Trump’s national security adviser before the president fired him in February 2017 for lying about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States at the time, Sergey I. Kislyak.

Mr. Flynn changed his legal team last year and began seeking to withdraw his guilty plea, claiming he never lied to investigators and was the target in January 2017 of what his lawyers in court papers called an “ambush-interview” by F.B.I. agents seeking to entrap him. He has since become a hero figure on the pro-Trump right, portrayed as a decorated patriot victimized by the politically motivated Russia “hoax” investigation of Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump, who initially distanced himself from Mr. Flynn after his firing, has since taken up his cause, calling him “an innocent man” targeted by Obama administration officials trying to “take down a president.”

“What happened to General Michael Flynn, a war hero, should never be allowed to happen to a citizen of the United States again!” Mr. Trump tweeted in April, weeks before the Justice Department sought to withdraw its charges. After the department acted, Mr. Trump tweeted his approval, writing on May 8, “Yesterday was a BIG day for Justice in the USA.”

In a late September hearing before Judge Sullivan, a lawyer for Mr. Flynn, Sidney Powell, reluctantly admitted that she had recently spoken to Mr. Trump about the case, but said she had asked the president not to pardon her client.

Ms. Powell has appeared alongside lawyers for Mr. Trump, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, to press an unfounded case of election fraud. But after Ms. Powell floated a set of particularly wild claims, Mr. Giuliani and another lawyer representing the Trump campaign, Jenna Ellis, said in an abrupt statement on Sunday that Ms. Powell “is not a member of the Trump legal team.”

Mr. Flynn has been awaiting a ruling from Judge Sullivan on the Justice Department’s motion to withdraw its charges. The motion raised alarms among career prosecutors about political influence at the department.

Mr. Flynn has said he does not recall his conversations with Mr. Kislyak. But transcripts declassified in May show that they were extensive, and that in three phone calls the men discussed how Washington and Moscow might improve ties; how Russia should respond to punitive actions by the departing Obama administration in response to Russia’s election interference; and a United Nations resolution to condemn Israeli settlements on the West Bank.

Many departing presidents have issued pardons and commutations near the end of their terms. Former President Bill Clinton drew particularly harsh criticism over his pardon of a wealthy Democratic donor in his final White House hours. But Democrats and legal experts fear that Mr. Trump will exercise his pardon power with a brazenness that shatters past precedent — possibly even by prospectively pardoning himself.

Mr. Trump has already commuted the sentence of Roger J. Stone Jr., another associate ensnared in the Russia investigation who was convicted on seven felony counts and was to begin a 40-month term in federal prison.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on reporting that Mr. Trump has told confidants that he plans to pardon Mr. Flynn.

While presidents have traditionally consulted the department on pardons and commutations, they do not need approval from the department in order to issue them. In general, Mr. Trump has neither consulted with the department nor pardoned people who have been vetted by the department’s pardons office.

Word of Mr. Trump’s intentions came on a day the president presided over the annual White House turkey pardon. Mr. Trump ignored shouted questions from reporters in the Rose Garden about whether he planned actual pardons before leaving office.

Katie Benner contributed reporting.





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Politics

Biden’s Economic Plan for the Virus


Biden warns of fatal consequences as Trump stonewalls on the transition, and Whitmer faces more blowback over the restrictions in Michigan. It’s Tuesday, and this is your politics tip sheet. Sign up here to get On Politics in your inbox every weekday.

Biden and Harris speaking about the economic recovery in Wilmington, Del., yesterday.


One of Trump’s lawyers argued in court last year that the president was immune from prosecution throughout his term in office.

Could the president, an appeals court judge asked, shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and get away with it, as he had talked on the campaign trail about doing? “That is correct,” the president’s lawyer, William Consovoy, replied.

It was a bold claim — and one that few legal scholars have endorsed. But what about after Trump leaves office? What’s to stop him from being prosecuted then?

Trump is already the subject of multiple investigations in New York stemming from his private business conduct: a criminal inquiry by the district attorney of Manhattan, and a civil investigation by the attorney general of New York State.

Yet there could be more, as our reporter Jonathan Mahler writes in a new article for The Times Magazine that seeks to answer the question of just how legally vulnerable Trump will be once he leaves the White House. Potentially criminal activity has unfolded throughout Trump’s term, Jonathan writes, and the only way to hold him legally accountable for things he did as president would be through federal prosecution.

Precedent points to leniency here: Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon in 1974, citing a need for national healing. Biden’s old boss, Obama, declined to prosecute former George W. Bush administration officials for authorizing the unlawful torture of detainees. But Trump’s case feels different.

“Every president seeks to exploit the immense power of the office, but Trump’s exploitation of this power represented a difference in both degree and kind,” Jonathan writes. “Trump stretched the limits of his authority not just to enrich himself and his family but to block investigations into his personal and official conduct and to maintain his grip on power.”

Prosecuting a former president — especially one who just received the second-most popular votes in United States history, and who continues to command the support of a devoted following — would be a complicated and risky gambit. You can read the full article, or listen to a narrated audio version of it, at this link.


New York Times Events

Today DealBook is holding its first Online Summit. Join us at 11 a.m. Eastern for a conversation with Dr. Anthony Fauci as he discusses the latest developments in the pandemic and reflects on his service under six presidents. And at 4:30 p.m. Eastern, Senator Elizabeth Warren will discuss the postelection outlook for politics and policy.

Watch free from anywhere in the world. Register now.

On Politics is also available as a newsletter. Sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox.

Is there anything you think we’re missing? Anything you want to see more of? We’d love to hear from you. Email us at onpolitics@nytimes.com.



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Celebrity

Watch Scott Disick Tell Kourtney Kardashian About His Rehab Plan


Scott Disick is seeking help.

In this clip from Thursday’s season 19 finale of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, the father of three reveals to Kourtney Kardashian his decision to seek treatment. As E! readers may recall, earlier this year, the Flip It Like Disick star entered rehab to work on “past traumas.”

And, as Scott shares in the new footage above, the coronavirus quarantine brought to light certain struggles he was facing.

“I don’t know, this whole COVID staying in, no structure, it just like doesn’t work for me,” Scott shares with Kourtney. “It’s like making me feel like I just can’t handle staying home, not working.”

As he continues, Scott details how he’s tried to keep busy during self-isolation.

“Like, renting a house in Malibu for an escape and that turned into a total s–t show with paparazzi,” he further laments. “Ok, this is no sanctuary at all.”

In a confessional, Scott feels like he’s “wasted all this time” and is unable to have “any privacy.”



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Health

COVID Plan ‘Built on Bedrock of Science’


Nov. 9, 2020 — President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team on Monday announced its coronavirus task force, a group of doctors and scientists that will advise the incoming administration on a way to try to stem the pandemic.

“Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is one of the most important battles our administration will face, and I will be informed by science and by experts,” Biden said in a statement. “The advisory board will help shape my approach to managing the surge in reported infections; ensuring vaccines are safe, effective, and distributed efficiently, equitably, and free; and protecting at-risk populations.”

Biden has already attended coronavirus briefings and planning sessions this week, and next week will be focused on a pandemic plan and health care, The New York Times reported.

“We’re not waiting to get the work done,” he said in a speech on Friday night.

On Monday, Biden spoke to reporters and said his task force will create a “blue print we can put in place as soon as Kamala and I are sworn in,” he said, referring to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. It will be a plan, he said, “built on the bedrock of science.”

Among the goals Biden outlined was to restore America’s leadership around the world and to build “a corps of contact tracers who will track and curb this disease while we prioritize getting vaccines ready and delivered,” which is needed to get schools reopened and the economy back on track, he said.

His administration will focus on “scaling up production of life-saving treatments and therapeutics, and, when it’s ready, making sure an approved vaccine is distributed equitably and efficiently to every American for free.”

The president-elect also urged all Americans to wear masks and practice social distancing.

“It doesn’t matter who you voted for,” he said, or “where you stood before Election Day. It doesn’t matter your party, your point of view. We could save tens of thousands of lives if everyone would wear a mask for the next few months. Not Democratic or Republican lives, American lives.”


Biden’s COVID-19 task force has 10 members and three co-chairs. The co-chairs are Vivek Murthy, MD, a former surgeon general; David Kessler, MD, a former FDA commissioner; and Marcella Nunez-Smith, MD, associate dean for health equity research at Yale School of Medicine. The three were featured as part of a COVID-19 briefing that Biden held last month, and Murthy has been privately advising Biden on the coronavirus for months.

The other members are:

  • Luciana Borio, MD, vice president at In-Q-Tel. She is also a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations.
  • Rick Bright, PhD, an immunologist, virologist, and former public health official. Bright was the director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority from 2016 to 2020 and the deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Ezekiel J. Emanuel, MD, an oncologist, vice provost for global initiatives, and chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Atul Gawande, MD, a general and endocrine surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School, and professor of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
  • Celine Gounder, MD, a clinical assistant professor at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine who cares for patients at Bellevue Hospital Center.
  • Julie Morita, MD, executive vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Morita was health commissioner for the city of Chicago for nearly 2 decades.
  • Michael Osterholm, PhD, regents professor, McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in Public Health and the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
  • Loyce Pace, executive director and president of the Global Health Council.
  • Robert Rodriguez, MD, a professor of emergency medicine at the UCSF School of Medicine, where he works in the emergency department and intensive care unit of two major trauma centers.
  • Eric Goosby, MD, an internationally recognized expert on infectious diseases and a professor of medicine at the UCSF School of Medicine.


The current White House Coronavirus Task Force has been mostly inactive as President Donald Trump has said the country is “rounding the turn” on the coronavirus. This week, the U.S. broke records 3 days in a row, with over 100,000 new cases daily — more than 130,000 reported on Friday — and will pass 10 million total cases today.

About half of the nation’s states have announced record highs during the past week as well. Nearly 55,000 people were hospitalized with the virus this weekend, according to the COVID Tracking Project, a number that has gradually been rising since the beginning of October.

Although Biden doesn’t take office until Jan. 20, the task force is coming up with plans now to go into effect as soon as that happens, such as increased testing and more personal protective gear.

The group is also focused on making sure vaccines are safe and work well, as well as protecting at-risk groups, according to Politico. Sub-groups of officials will oversee COVID-19 therapeutics, guidance for schools, and state coordination as well.

“We are still 11 weeks away from the inauguration — that’s a potentially dangerous and damaging time for the American public with the virus still raging,” Kathleen Sebelius, a former secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, told Politico.
“So hopefully this [new task force] can give the American public some confidence that they’re not on their own, that the pandemic isn’t a Democratic plot, that the numbers are very real and that we have choices,” she said.

 



WebMD Health News


Sources


The New York Times, “As the virus rages, President-elect Biden could announce his Covid-19 task force on Monday.”

CNN: “Joe Biden addresses nation as votes continue to be tallied.”

COVID Tracking Project: “US Currently Hospitalized with COVID-19.”

Politico: “Biden plans for Covid task force during transition.”



© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.





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Health

The Trump Administration Shut a Vaccine Safety Office Last Year. What’s the Plan Now?


As the first coronavirus vaccines arrive in the coming year, government researchers will face a monumental challenge: monitoring the health of hundreds of millions of Americans to ensure the vaccines don’t cause harm.

Purely by chance, thousands of vaccinated people will have heart attacks, strokes and other illnesses shortly after the injections. Sorting out whether the vaccines had anything to do with their ailments will be a thorny problem, requiring a vast, coordinated effort by state and federal agencies, hospitals, drug makers and insurers to discern patterns in a flood of data. Findings will need to be clearly communicated to a distrustful public swamped with disinformation.

For now, Operation Warp Speed, created by the Trump administration to spearhead development of coronavirus vaccines and treatments, is focused on getting vaccines through clinical trials in record time and manufacturing them quickly.

The next job will be to monitor the safety of vaccines once they’re in widespread use. But the administration last year quietly disbanded the office with the expertise for exactly this job, merging it into an office focused on infectious diseases. Its elimination has left that long-term safety effort for coronavirus vaccines fragmented among federal agencies, with no central leadership, experts say.

“We’re behind the eight ball,” said Daniel Salmon, who served as the director of vaccine safety in that office from 2007 to 2012, overseeing coordination during the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009. ”We don’t even know who’s in charge.”

An H.H.S. spokesperson said that the vaccine office was not shuttered. “The office was not ‘closed,’ but was merged with the Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy and was strengthened,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “All the functions continue in this new organizational structure.”

In a brief statement, a different spokesperson said that Operation Warp Speed was working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “to synchronize the IT systems” involved in monitoring vaccine safety data.

Scientists at the C.D.C. and the Food and Drug Administration have decades of experience tracking the long-term safety of vaccines. They’ve created powerful computer programs that can analyze large databases.

“It’s like satellites looking at the weather,” said Dr. Bruce Gellin, the president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, who headed the National Vaccine Program Office from 2002 to 2017.

But monitoring hundreds of millions of Americans who may get different coronavirus vaccines from a variety of drug makers by summer is like tracking a major storm beyond anything researchers have dealt with before.

The closest parallel was in the spring of 2009, when a new strain of H1N1 influenza emerged, and researchers raced to make a vaccine. From October 2009 to January 2010, it was administered to over 82 million people in the United States.

As the vaccine was developed, Dr. Gellin and other federal officials and scientists organized a system to monitor the population for severe side effects and to promptly share results with the public. Eleven years later, it looks like the lessons of 2009 are being forgotten, experts say.

“We got all these different agencies together, we created governance around it, we created a regular monitoring plan, as well as a public communication plan,” said Dr. Jesse Goodman, the F.D.A.’s chief scientist during the H1N1 pandemic. “I think that something very much like that is even more needed now. And, you know, we haven’t yet seen that emerge.”

In the 1970s, the U.S. government set up large-scale programs to monitor vaccine safety. There was a system for parents to report symptoms their children experienced after getting a vaccine. It may get 50,000 reports from parents, doctors, hospitals and vaccine makers in a typical year. But the tool has limits: People may not report symptoms that should be investigated, or may see a connection to a vaccination where none exists.

“People are vaccinated one day, and the next day they have some bad medical event, and then they scratch their head and say, ‘Well, you know, I was fine until this happened,’” Dr. Gellin said.

In 1990, the C.D.C. set up a new way to track vaccines that didn’t depend on people coming forward. The agency worked with health care organizations to get updates on people’s medical conditions. That system now covers 12 million people. Researchers can use it to look for clusters of symptoms that arise in people who get the same vaccine.

When the H1N1 flu hit in 2009, Dr. Salmon recognized that these methods didn’t track enough people to quickly pick up rare symptoms. He reached out to researchers at Harvard to build a new system, which came to be known as PRISM. Ten states supplied vaccination records, and five health insurance companies shared anonymous information about 38 million members. PRISM then connected the two databases to track insurance claims in the wake of vaccination. “That really gave us a ton of data,” Dr. Salmon said.

The researchers could come up with a background rate of a host of medical conditions. If the H1N1 vaccine was linked to cases that matched the background rate, they could dismiss the symptoms as ordinary. Only if they rose above the background rate would they be considered unusual and warrant a closer look.

Scientists from various federal agencies gathered every two weeks to share data and look for worrying clusters of symptoms. Every month, outside experts reviewed the evidence and released public reports. “Vaccine programs are contingent on trust,” Dr. Gellin said, “and transparency is a huge element of that.”

The vast majority of reports turned out to have nothing to do with the new vaccines. Just a handful of medical conditions required an intensive review. The researchers noticed that some vaccinated people developed a facial weakness called Bell’s palsy, for example, but within two weeks they ruled out vaccines as the cause.

In the following years, as emerging viruses caused outbreaks of Ebola, MERS and other diseases, experts called for more preparations for the next pandemic. In 2016, President Barack Obama set up a global health security office at the National Security Council. But in 2018, the Trump administration disbanded that office, saying it was streamlining bureaucratic bloat.

The next year, the National Vaccine Program Office met a similar fate. Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, said in a letter to Senator Patty Murray, the ranking member of a health subcommittee, that the merger, as part of a broader department reorganization, would “increase operational efficiencies by eliminating program redundancies and decreasing program costs.”

The offices were merged “after a study by career staff who recommended to the Assistant Secretary for Health that this was the best way to improve the function of both offices by creating synergies and eliminating stovepipes,” said Admiral Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health, in a brief statement. “I wholeheartedly concurred with this recommendation because strengthening vaccine effectiveness and confidence and ending the H.I.V. epidemic are two of my most critical priorities. Anyone who is suggesting that we closed this office has no clue what they’re talking about.”

But Dr. Nicole Lurie, who was assistant secretary for preparedness and response at H.H.S. during the 2009 pandemic, said the loss of the vaccine safety office was especially costly once the coronavirus pandemic hit. “The coordinated leadership for stuff like this would likely come from the National Vaccine Program Office,” she said.

Dr. Lurie, now an adviser at the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation, has been waiting along with other researchers, month after month, for coordinated leadership to emerge from the federal government on long-term vaccine safety. “There are a whole bunch of people who were really concerned about this,” she said.

An F.D.A. official who declined to be identified said that in the absence of the National Vaccine Program Office, F.D.A. and C.D.C. staff members were relying on relationships they had built across the agencies, meeting regularly to discuss their separate projects.

That leaderless effort concerns Dr. Lurie. “There’s no sort of active coordination to bring all the information together,” she said.

On Thursday, an expert from the C.D.C. and another from the F.D.A. gave presentations about monitoring systems at a meeting of the F.D.A.’s vaccine advisory committee. One system will use smartphone apps to stay in touch with health and other essential workers after their vaccinations. Another will look at a database of electronic health records and insurance claims, and yet another will use Centers for Medicare & Medicaid data to track people over 65.

Although each system may reveal important clues, they have limits that worry outside experts. Dr. Steven Black, the co-director of the Global Vaccine Data Network, observed that the Medicare system only registers billing information, resulting in a time lag. “The patient has to get into the hospital, leave the hospital and a bill needs to be sent,” he said.

The other systems can provide safety information much faster, but they’re small compared with the PRISM system, which now covers about 60 million people. The F.D.A. still uses PRISM for drug safety research, but not for vaccines. Dr. Salmon is baffled that the agency hasn’t tapped into it again. “Why would you not use that?” he asked. (An agency spokeswoman said it might use PRISM in the future should the need arise.)

The F.D.A. official said the agencies were still building lists of symptoms they plan to track closely. The C.D.C.’s list includes conditions like strokes and seizures. But it is also including entirely new conditions the coronavirus causes, like Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome, which affects many organs at once.

The agencies are searching the scientific literature to estimate the background rates of these outcomes. But Dr. Salmon warned that lockdowns and other disruptions have made some conditions more common and others less so. Comparing the health of vaccinated people with that of people from before the pandemic may set off false alarms.

Dr. Salmon and other researchers are concerned that no overarching plan for communicating findings to the public has emerged. The F.D.A. official said the agency would post its updates on its website. A C.D.C. committee will get safety data from the agencies and discuss the results at public meetings.

But that may fall short of what’s needed to foster public confidence. A poll conducted earlier this month by Stat and The Harris Poll found that 58 percent of Americans said they would get vaccinated as soon as a vaccine was available, down from 69 percent in August.

The explosion of disinformation on social media will make clear communication vital. “I think that preparing for Russian disinformation campaigns should be part of preparing for the rollout of a Covid vaccine,” said Steven Wilson, a political scientist at Brandeis University.

Dr. Grace Lee, a professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine and a member of the C.D.C. committee, agreed that such preparations were urgent, but said they were beyond the committee’s scope: “A national communication strategy and plan is much needed.”



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Breaking New

Joe Biden lays out a detailed plan to fight coronavirus


U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks about his plan to beat COVID-19 in Wilmington, Delaware, October 23, 2020.

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Friday laid out exactly how a Biden administration would address the coronavirus crisis, one day after the United States recorded nearly a record daily high in new coronavirus cases.

Biden said if he were elected, he would begin carrying out his plan even before he is inaugurated.

“I’ll reach out to every governor in every state, red and blue, as well as mayors and local officials, during the transition, to find out what support they need and how much of it they need,” Biden said during a speech at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware.

“I’ll ask the new Congress to put a bill on my desk by the end of January with all the resources necessary, so that both our public health response and our economic response can be seen through to the end.”

Here’s how Biden described each step of his plan.

  • Masking: Biden said he would go to every governor and ask them to impose a mask mandate. If governors refused, as they have in several states, Biden said he would turn to local officials. He also said he will mandate masks in all federal buildings and on all interstate transportation.
  • Testing: The former vice president said he would launch a national testing plan aimed at conducting as many tests each day as the U.S. currently performs each week, which would amount to approximately 7 million tests a day. Biden would also build lab capacity, hire a national corps of contact tracers, and ensure that tests are free and accessible regardless of immigration status.
  • Personal protective equipment: Biden intends to use “the full power of the Defense Production Act” to drive the domestic manufacturing of masks, gloves, gowns and other equipment, including ample N95 masks for health-care workers. Biden also said he would appoint “a fully empowered supply commander in charge of filling in the gaps.”
  • Uniform, scientific reopening guidelines: A Biden administration, he said, will “provide consistent, reliable, trusted, detailed nationwide guidance and technical support for reopening safely and the resources to make it happen.” Biden also said the government would provide consultations and technical advice “so people have a place to turn with their questions.”
  • Treatments and vaccines: Biden’s plan would put an emphasis on equitable and widespread delivery of therapeutics in the near term and eventually a free coronavirus vaccine, he said. But Biden acknowledged that even if a vaccine is found to be effective, “It will still be many months before any vaccine is widely available.”

The speech showcased the sharp divide between President Donald Trump’s approach to combating the virus, which relies heavily on shifting authority and responsibility for pandemic response onto states, and Biden’s more centralized plan.

A Trump campaign spokesperson did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Biden’s speech.

With just 11 days to go before Election Day, the speech both crystallized Biden’s closing argument and encapsulated his overarching campaign promise: Namely, a return to responsible, reliable and steady leadership.

“Imagine a day in the not too distant future, when you can enjoy dinner with your friends and family, and maybe even go out to a movie,” said Biden, painting a picture of everyday American life that used to sound mundane, but now seems out of reach for many.

Trump, meanwhile, has continued to downplay the severity of the global pandemic, which has so far cost the lives of more than 220,000 Americans, the worst outcome among any of the developed nations.

During the final presidential debate Thursday in Nashville, Trump insisted that the country is “rounding the corner,” and the virus is “going away,” despite the fact that cases are surging in most states. “I say we’re learning to live with it,” he added.

Biden shot back: “People are learning to die with it.”



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Joe Biden’s Tax Plan Will Put The Middle Class In Peril (VIDEO)


Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone was on the FOX Business Network this week to discuss the election, specifically Joe Biden’s tax plan.

Biden keeps claiming he is only going to tax the rich, in an obvious effort to appeal to the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democrat party, but the truth is that his plan will impact the middle class negatively.

Langone explained how.

From FOX Business:

TRENDING: Mysterious “Donald Trump Watch” Website — With Offices in China — Reveals Addresses of Local Trump Donors for Antifa and BLM Terrorist Targeting

Joe Biden’s tax plan will put middle class in ‘peril,’ Home Depot’s Langone says

Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone blasted Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s tax plan on Wednesday, saying that “the middle class will be in peril.”

Langone told “Mornings with Maria” on Wednesday that the middle class will feel the effects of Biden’s tax plan even though the former vice president has said the wealthy should pay more in taxes, and that the tax code should be more progressive and equitable. That includes eliminating loopholes that favor the rich and large corporations.

“I don’t know if there’s any of us that have done well that will have a problem with paying more taxes, but it’s a ruse to think that hitting us and us alone is going to get the job done,” Langone said.

“It won’t and the middle class will be in peril and when you take money out of the hands of the middle class, you do a dramatic impact negatively on the economy.”

“The middle class will not be exempt,” he added. “Tragically, it will punish them. It isn’t going to punish us.”

Watch the video below:

Langone makes some excellent points here but one really stands out.

Why would you raise any taxes when we’re still trying to recover from the hit the economy took under the pandemic?

We should be looking at tax cuts, not increases.

(Image:Source)

Cross posted from American Lookout.





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Politics

McConnell’s Plan On Relief Bills To Pick and Choose Which Americans Get Help And Punish Enemies


Yesterday Senate Majority Leader Mitch MCconnell announced he will be bringing to vote in the Senate this week two stand-alone COVID-19 relief packages. On Tuesday, he will put to vote a Paycheck Protection Program bill to help small businesses, and on Wednesday he will bring back the same $500 billion stimulus package Democrats rejected last month.

Democrats have repeatedly pressed for a much more comprehensive plan providing more funding for a COVID-19 testing and, in particular, funding for state and local municipalities that have been hit doubly hard by the pandemic, suffering loss of significant revenues because of the economic slow-down while also incurring substantial expenses to address the effects of the pandemic.  Months ago a $2.2 trillion dollar relief bill, the HEROES act, passed in the House, only to languish on McConnell’s desk, never coming to a vote in the Senate.

It might initially seem like a good idea for Senate Democrats to pass relief bills piecemeal in order to get aid to as many suffering Americans as possible as soon as humanly possible.  Indeed, with the recent drying up of relief benefits passed earlier in the year, 8 million more Americans fell into poverty.  The need is dire.

And yet, what McConnell and the GOP are trying to do with these stand-alone bills is precisely to play favorites and have the right to pick and choose exactly which people or sectors will be favored with relief funding and which will, effectively, be punished by being excluded from their bills.  Were the Democrats to approve these relief packages in isolation, the Republicans could simply walk away from upcoming bills representing other discrete pieces of a comprehensive and overall package designed to address the needs of all suffering Americans.

Funding for state and local governments has been the biggest target for Trump, McConnell, and the GOP. 

Indeed, as Claire Hansen reported for U.S. News and World Report last week, chronicling discussions between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin:

Mnuchin said Wednesday that there was not only disagreement over the top-line cost of the package but also over specific policy provisions within the bill, including the funding for states and localities. Trump has repeatedly signaled his resistance to “bailing out” states and cities run by Democratic leaders.

The dynamic here is clear. Trump, McConnell, and the GOP are committed to representing and serving only part of America, what some have called Trump’s “United Base of America.”

The attack on states, we need to recognize, has built into it another target—unionized public workers who often have state-funded pensions.

And this attack on public-sector workers is equally an attack on all of us living states, as it means states may not be able to pay for teachers, firefighters, police officers, and a whole range of vital services upon which all of us depend for roads, parks, libraries, public schools, affordable state universities, clean water supplies, police and fire protection, garbage pick-up, snow removal, public health services, and more.

We have to wonder: why wouldn’t the federal government provide similar assistance to states losing out on key revenues because of the pandemic so teachers can keep educating children, police can keep the peace, workers can maintain infrastructure, hospitals can receive aid, firefighters can address emergencies, and so forth?

These services may be far more essential than the t-shirt shop down the block. So why is funding states and helping to keep state workers employed and thus vital services available to people, such an issue?

While McConnell and the GOP want to protect the paychecks of employees in the private sector, public-sector employees will, in their plan, be hung out to dry, as will all of us depending on the vital services those employees provide.

In earlier iterations of relief funding proposals, McConnell has simply said he refuses to bail out states who have created their own fiscal problems through mismanagement and underfunding pension systems.  He thinks states should declare bankruptcy, although it is actually illegal for states to declare bankruptcy and default on obligations, including pension obligations.

As I’ve explained elsewhere in the pages of PoliticusUsa, McConell is actually exploiting this moment—and Americans’ suffering—to pursue his long-desired political plot of getting states, particularly blue states with robust public sectors and a substantial unionized workforce, under the budget jurisdiction of the Federal judicial system. Bankruptcy proceedings are overseen by federal courts, so if McConnell can pass legislation allowing states to declare bankruptcy, he can get these blue state budgets—and also their governing policies—under federal control.

We can see that these actions are simply nefarious political maneuverings when we consider the recent past.

First, remember back in the Great Recession when banks behaved badly, irresponsibly issuing toxic loans and mortgage-backed securities and derivatives, leading to the near total collapse of the U.S. economy? They were not punished for their behavior, for “problems they created for themselves.” They were bailed out supposedly to save the economy, because they were “too big to fail,” even though many Americans still suffered foreclosure, eviction, and job loss.

If states are having trouble funding pensions, well, at least that’s a problem caused by trying to help people live a dignified retirement. Whereas banks created their problems in the Great Recession because they were greedy and trying to rip people off.

Moreover, aren’t states too big to fail, also? States laying off workers and being unable to provide basic services and maintain infrastructure, will be a huge hit to the economy.

Trump, McConnell, and the GOP, though, simply aren’t thinking about the economy and people’s dire needs in these ways.

They are too busy politicizing this situation and seeking vengeance of their political enemies—a mode of governing that inevitably harms the American people, leaving us hung out to dry.



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E.U. Presses Legal Action Against Britain Over Brexit Plan


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E.U. Presses Legal Action Against Britain Over Brexit Plan

The European Commission took legal action against Britain for refusing to withdraw portions of its Brexit plan that Britain admitted could break international law by overriding commitments on Northern Ireland.

We had invited our British friends to remove the problematic parts of their draft internal market bill by the end of September. This draft bill is by its very nature, a breach of the obligation of good faith laid down in the withdrawal agreement. Moreover, if adopted as is it will be in full contradiction to the protocol of Ireland, Northern Ireland. The deadline lapsed yesterday. The problematic provisions have not been removed. Therefore, this morning, the commission has decided to send a letter formal notice to the U.K. government. This is the first step in an infringement procedure. The letter invites the U.K. government to send its observations within a month, and besides this, the commission will continue to work hard towards a full and timely implementation of the withdrawal agreement. We stand by our commitment.

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