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$1.8 trillion economic stimulus bill in limbo over partisan disputes

U.S. Capitol Building
REUTERS/Jason Reed
U.S. Capitol Building

A quartet of reporters from The Washington Post writes: “Senate Democrats blocked a massive coronavirus stimulus bill from moving forward Sunday as partisan disputes raged over the legislation that’s aimed at arresting the economy’s precipitous decline. Lawmakers had hoped to pass the enormous $1.8 trillion bill by Monday but Sunday night they were scrambling to revive talks, with the stock market poised for another sharp drop and households and businesses fretting about an uncertain future. … A major sticking point is a $500 billion pool of money for loans and loan guarantees that Republicans want to create, which some Democrats are labeling a “slush fund” because the Treasury Department would have broad discretion over who receives the money.

For CBS MarketWatch, Mark DeCambre and Mike Murphy report, “U.S. stock-index futures fell by the most allowable for the day Sunday evening as the cases of coronavirus globally neared 330,000 and the market appeared unhappy with a lack of government action to address the current and expected fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. On top of that, a U.S. central bank official estimated that the unemployment rate could surge from just over 3% to 30% at its peak as businesses shutter in an effort to clamp down on the spread of the deadly illness.”

Also from the Washington Post, this from Jeanne Whalen: “3M said it is ready to rush additional shipments across the country and will almost double production of the masks over the next year, to an annual rate of 2 billion masks worldwide. That is a bigger increase than the 30 percent boost the company announced Friday. 3M factories in South Dakota and Nebraska are now producing 35 million N95 masks a month, 90 percent of which are designated for health-care workers after a change in law last week eliminated the threat of lawsuits from such sales.”

In the Pioneer Press, Kristi BelCamino says, “Sewers are being hailed as grassroots soldiers on the front line against the spread of coronavirus as Twin Cities health care and elder facilities plea for them to make and donate face masks. ‘My sewing machine is my weapon against this enemy. Let’s stitch together,’ read a recent meme on the American Sewing Guild, Minneapolis-St. Paul Chapter’s Facebook page this weekend. … The movement has quickly caught fire across the Twin Cities. In response to the outpouring of help, Treadle Yard Goods on Grand Avenue in St. Paul offered free kits to make CDC-approved face masks Sunday and sold out of its 50 kits within moments. Many people in line to get the kits stayed to buy their own materials to make the masks.”


For RiverTown Multimedia, Rachel Helgeson writes: “Local Wisconsin municipalities are being flooded with absentee ballots submissions and added election protocols as residents limit social exposure to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. In New Richmond alone, the city has seen a 300% increase in the number of absentee ballots since the February election, according to city clerk Michelle Scanlan. Hudson and River Falls are also seeing an increase is absentee ballot submissions. The Spring Election and Presidential Preference Primary is April 7.”

In the Mankato Free Press, Dan Greenwood writes: “March 15 was probably the last Sunday that Pastor Scott Richards of Trinity Lutheran Church near Gaylord would lead a traditional, physical service for the foreseeable future, but it gave him a chance to prepare the congregation for what was to come. ‘Everything is improv right now,’ Richards said. ‘It’s trying to figure out how can we still be a community while we’re apart?’ His answer was a drive-thru church service where people wouldn’t even have to leave their cars. ‘We can maintain a safe distance,’ he said. ‘People would still have a chance to see others, which I think is a blessing.’”

For the Duluth News Tribune, columnist Jim Heffernan writes, “I have a close association with the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 and how it affected Duluth. You could say one degree of separation. Two years before she died in 1983, I sat my mother down before a tape recorder with the purpose of recording her memories of the historic 1918 fire that devastated Cloquet, Moose Lake, rural Duluth and threatened the city itself. … Almost as an aside, she mentioned that they were wearing masks because of what she termed the ‘flu ban’ when no public gatherings were allowed. Theaters, schools, churches all were closed, she said. Downtown stores were open. … How long did the flu ban last? Six weeks, she recalled. It’s safe to say that the great 1918 fire in this region on top of the Spanish flu pandemic had to be the darkest days in Northland history. … And all this going on as World War I raged in Europe, then drawing to a close with further millions of lives lost worldwide. So we’ve been there before.”

Comments (12)

  1. Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 03/23/2020 - 09:03 am.

    The bailout in Washington is looking a lot like 2008, hand the big players unlimited money to buy up the wreckage of the economy. Here is what I wrote our Senators:

    With regards,

    The 2008 TARP bailout, plus QE at 4.5 trillion, aka the estimated 29 trillion in liquidity central banks led by the Fed injected into the markets through 2014, amounted to the greatest transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich in the history of the world. It lead to epidemics of drug addiction, homelessness and suicide. It led to widespread economic despair. It led to the election of Trump.

    It looks like the Senate is about to save the elite and let the people sink. A couple of $1000 dollar checks will mean nothing if the 1% come out of this corona business owning 99% of assets. Now is the time for debt jubilee – a true bailout for Americans in a state of debt servitude – not bailouts for elite to buy up the wreckage of the economy for pennies on the dollar.

    William Hunter Duncan

  2. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/23/2020 - 09:56 am.

    One of the annoying characteristics of the “partisan divide” narrative, i.e. the practice of framing everything as a symptom of division, is that it essentially trivializes objections and disagreements, as if no one actually has reason other than their party affiliation for making objections. This actually actually obscures rather than informs. What’s the point of a media that obscures rather than informs?

    The stimulus package isn’t stalled by partisan divide, it’s stalled by Democrats that have very specific concerns. Journalism should enlighten rather than gloss over significant details and information. For instance, what kind of guarantees and oversight are Democrats asking for, what kind of language do they want to see in the bill? Are Republicans actually refusing, or did they just dismiss Democratic concerns?

    Also worth noting, Republicans not only failed to produce the 60 votes they needed, they didn’t even deliver a simply majority of 51 votes, what’s up that?

    • Submitted by BK Anderson on 03/23/2020 - 11:33 am.

      Several Repubs are in self-quarantine after blithely running around doing business-a-normal, “it’s-a-Dem-hoax” appearances, and so apparently are not available as reliable votes for McConnell.

    • Submitted by Tom Anderson on 03/24/2020 - 10:35 pm.

      Apparently the Congressional Democrats don’t trust the Treasury Department (the government) which might seem odd since they oversee the Department and provide all monies administered to it. Perhaps they believe that there are some Deep Staters in the Department. Oh wait…

  3. Submitted by BK Anderson on 03/23/2020 - 10:23 am.

    First one must observe the almost comic spectacle of “conservatives” now wild to spend twice[!] the amount of “stimulus” than they universally opposed in the Great Recession as Obama’s wasteful “porkulus”. It would seem that Repub willingness to increase government spending is entirely dependent upon who controls the WH. Now there’s an ideology for you!

    Next one observes that the current impasse is over McConnell being willing to agree to something sensible (massive extension of Unemployment benefits and medical/hospital rescue) only in exchange for spending (hundreds of billions more) on nonsense, such as the $1000 checks to employed people and (worse) $500 Billion in wholly discretionary corporate welfare funds to an impeached, lawbreaking president and his hapless Wall Street lackey Mnuchin, neither of whom can be trusted to carry out the common good.

    The economy can’t be kept out of serious recession at this point, and details of an economic “stimulus” should beheld in abeyance while the the actual emergency (+2.5 million unemployed, hospitals without masks[!] and shuttered up small business) is addressed first. Everything needed be addressed in one bill, that’s bad policy-making.

    As dark comedy, I see the Grand Imbecile is now tweeting (the Trumpian vehicle for promulgating Executive policy) that he’s had enough of the shut-down and that 15 days is enough. Apparently he thinks this will cause the doomed stock markets to return to value, but as usual he hasn’t any clue what might drive the markets anywhere–as he’s shown every step of this calamity.

    As long a people fear contracting COVID, economic activity is not going to return to normal. Not for bars, restaurants, airlines, cruise ships or hotels, quarantine or not. That Trump doesn’t understand this obvious proposition shows he is so far underwater he doesn’t know which end is up.

  4. Submitted by Bruce Marshall on 03/23/2020 - 11:17 am.

    I second everything Hunter, Udstrand and Anderson said above, which I had just written to to Klobachar and Smith before I opened MinnPost this morning.

    To MinnPost I especially object to its (joining in) in framing the issue as “Democrats hold up”/”partisan objections” and the like. If the reporter was not old enough or not well enough educated to have a perspective (2008-2009/Iraq War/Spanish-American War, etc), the editor should have retitled the article to give it, a perspective.

  5. Submitted by Larry Sanderson on 03/23/2020 - 12:10 pm.

    Fire the headline writer!

    • Submitted by Charles Holtman on 03/24/2020 - 10:49 pm.

      Agree with the atrocious Both Siderism in the headline but the headline is just quoting from the atrocious text in the Wash Post article itself. It’s this reflexive and inviolable, cognition-obliterating Both Siderism in the mainstream media that, even more than Fox News, elected Trump and keeps the Republican Party in existence.

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