Category Archives: Politics

Stocks Respond Well to Passage of Second Stimulus Bill

Despite Trump’s declared dislike for the latest stimulus package passed by the US Congress, he signed anyway, to the rejoicing of legislators, citizens, and the stock market.

The newest bill authorizes $900 billion in aid to deal with the devastating effects to individuals, families, and the economy of the coronavirus pandemic. Included in the deal is a $600 check for every adult, expanded unemployment benefits, and more money for the Paycheck Protection Program which helps small businesses to retain their employees and stay afloat.

President Trump originally threatened to not sign the bill, saying that the payment should be $2,000 and not $600. He relented and the process of getting the desperately needed money out to the population hard hit by the pandemic is underway.

The stock market reacted positively: The S&P rose by 0.87%; the Dow Jones industrial average climbed 0.68% to 30,403.97; and the NASDAQ composite also increased 0.74% to 12,899.42.

In other, related news, the latest COVID-19 vaccine, from AstraZeneca, is about to get emergency use authorization in the UK, with the hope that the vaccine will begin deployment the first week in January 2021.

The company said that, like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which are already circulating in many countries, the AstraZeneca vaccine has an efficacy rate of 95%.

The Youngest Electorate in US History Votes for Oldest President-Elect

Joe Biden courtesy of Gage Skidmore

At 78 years old Joe Biden is the oldest president-elect in US history—but that did not stop young people from voting for him in droves. More than half of registered voters under 30 voted in the 2020 election, the largest percentage ever says the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University.

That historic engagement of the young, benefited Biden, since he received 60% of their votes, compared to only 36% that the incumbent, Donald Trump received. In contrast, the previous presidential election in 2016 only inspired 42%-44% of this demographic to vote for either Hillary Clinton or Trump. Four years ago, many of the same voters supported Clinton, but by a smaller spread of only 19 points: 55% to 36%.

In Colorado, Georgia, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington preliminary data are showing a large increase in youth coming to the polls to vote.

Chief Executive Officer Tom Bonier at the Democratic data firm TargetSmart, explained to The Hill that “the increase in turnout among younger voters was greater than the increase overall.”
The Biden campaign was well-aware that support for Clinton in 2016 waned in many large population centers, so they worked hard to showcase issues that are important to younger voters. Some of those issues include student debt, health care, and environmental regulations.

“In the key battlegrounds, those younger voters likely netted Biden enough votes to carry the Electoral College,” according to The Hill. “Based on turnout and exit poll data, the Tufts center estimates voters under 30 gave Biden enough net votes to carry Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.”

Young Black voters were especially supportive of Biden, with 87% voting for Biden and only 10% supporting Trump. Almost as dedicated to Biden were young voters from Asian and Hispanic backgrounds with 83% of young Asians and 73% of young Hispanics voting for Biden. Among young white voters, the support was less pronounced, with 51% supporting Biden at the polls.

China Joins International Effort to Bring COVID Vaccine to World’s Neediest

China is the latest country to add its signature to a global effort to make sure that when a coronavirus vaccine is finally developed and ready for distribution, it will be given to the neediest people around the world.

Know as the COVAX initiative, it is sponsored by the World Health Organization and has signed up 157 countries. The WHO hopes the program will ensure that 2 billion doses of this life-saving vaccine will be made available to those most in need, no matter where they live, by the end of 2021.

“We have solemnly pledged to make vaccines developed and deployed by China a global public good, which will be provided to developing countries as a priority,” Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry, wrote on Twitter.

This is an about-face for China, which originally bowed out from joining COVAX. China is currently developing four vaccines that are in clinical trials. One of them, according to Wu Guizhen, chief biosafety expert at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, should be ready to be used on the general population sometime in November. President of China, Xi Jinping promised back in May that he would make any Chinese vaccine available for “the global good.” At that time Xi also pledged $2 billion to WHO, making China the organization’s largest donor.

In early September, the United States announced its decision to stay away from the COVAX initiative, stating that:

“We will not be constrained by multilateral organizations influenced by the corrupt World Health Organization and China,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said at the time.

Biden Reaches Out to Small Businesses

Joe Biden courtesy of Gage Skidmore

The campaign for the Democratic nominee for president of the United States, Joe Biden, will create an initiative to deploy an advisory council on small businesses and entrepreneurship. The initiative includes John Hickenlooper, who is running for the Senate in Colorado; Andrew Yang, who, along with Hickenlooper, participated in the Democratic primaries; and the owner of a Miami-based empanada company.

Biden’s campaign will also place a group of four advertisements throughout Arizona, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania that will focus on business owners who have been hurt and are struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The initiative and the ads are designed to contrast Biden’s concern with the actions of the Trump administration which the campaign believes did not do enough to help small business and handled the Covid-19 pandemic poorly.

Biden has often pointed to Trump’s mishandling of the pandemic and brought attention to the difficulties small businesses are facing with an emphasis on the challenges procuring Paycheck Protection Program loans.

“The fact is that we’re in a situation where right now an awful lot of small businesses, 50 or fewer employees, are going out of business because the $2 trillion in the acts that are passed by the Congress aren’t getting to them at all,” Biden explained at a fundraiser.

Senate to Open on Schedule May Fourth

Mitch McConnel. Courtesy of Gage Skidmore

Mitch McConnel, the Republican Senate majority leader, announced that Senators will be returning to Washington to get back to the business of governing. McConnel is determined to move forward with the opening despite the continued health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that has so far killed almost 60,000 Americans in the two months of March and April this year.

McConnell released a written statement addressing those fears about the opening:

“We will modify routines in ways that are smart and safe, but we will honor our constitutional duty to the American people and conduct critical business in person.”

He added that the importance of this moment requires that Senators pull their weight when others in the country are doing so.

“If it is essential for doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, truck drivers, grocery-store workers, and many other brave Americans to keep carefully manning their own duty stations, then it is essential for Senators to carefully man ours and support them,” McConnell said.

One of the urgent issued McConnel plans on addressing when the lawmakers once again meet is whether to shield businesses from lawsuits that could arise from businesses opening and people contracting corona as a result.

“We cannot let that happen,” McConnell said, referring to lawsuits against businesses. “Our nation is facing the worst pandemic in over a century and potentially the worst economic shock since the Great Depression. Our response must not be slowed, weakened, or exploited to set up the biggest trial lawyer bonanza in history.”

President Trump agreed with McConnel on this issue, that businesses should be protected from lawsuits.

“We just don’t want that because we want the companies to open and to open strong,” Mr. Trump said earlier this month.

No details were offered on how the legislatures will protect themselves from infection when they meet, except to say that changes will be made to keep people, including staff, police, security, reporters, and the Senators safe.