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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.

Lobbyists are flocking to Washington, D.C., and flooding the city with more money seeking to buy influence than has been spent in seven years. The dynamic where businesses are spending more to pay off politicians and other public figure coincides with a parade of unethical action and behavior from Donald Trump.

Lobbyists spent $3.34 billion in Washington in 2017, the most they have spent since 2010, the second year of Barack Obama’s presidency.

Trump’s campaign rhetoric about “draining the swamp” had an extremely limited shelf life. Not long after he was inaugurated, Trump showed the country that he was dead-set on doing what it took to count his administration among the most corrupt in history.

Instead of a break from his private businesses, where his properties were used to hide international mafia money while he groped women and leered at half-undressed teenage girls at the pageants he owned, Trump kept up the underhanded behavior in the presidency.

Trump’s hotels have become towers of influence, with businesses and foreign powers booking rooms at the Trump International Hotel, putting money in Trump’s pocket as he makes decisions about those same interests from the presidency.

His cabinet is the wealthiest in modern history, loaded with executives from companies he had excoriated on the campaign trail, like Goldman Sachs.

These were the same figures working behind closed doors with Congressional Republicans to craft the tax bill, excluding Democrats from the process as lobbyists inserted sweetheart deals they could profit from while the general public languished.

Despite his campaign rhetoric, Trump has violated ethical standards of the presidency and used his office to enrich himself and his family with no regard for the public good. His behavior, far more than his empty promises, demonstrates the priorities of his administration, and the lobbyists he vowed to banish have instead figured out just how welcome they are in Trump’s swamp.

Oliver Willis is a former research fellow at Media Matters for America who has been blogging about politics since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @owillis.

PHOTO: Flags fly above the entrance to the new Trump International Hotel on its opening day in Washington, DC, September 12, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

 

 

Poll: Most Parents Oppose Rapid School Reopening

Numerous local school systems around the country are plowing ahead with plans to resume in-person instruction despite growing evidence that children are just as capable of spreading the coronavirus as adults.

Classes were set to begin on Monday in Baker County, Florida. Masks for students will be optional, not required. "It looks like it's back to normal this morning, honestly," a local television reporter observed as parents dropped their kids off in the morning. Many students wore no face coverings.

The Trump administration and the GOP have pushed for full reopening of schools for months."Schools in our country should be opened ASAP," Donald Trump tweeted in May. "Much very good information now available."

"SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!" he reiterated on July 6.

"The science and data is clear: children can be safe in schools this fall, and they must be in school this fall," demanded Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) on Aug. 1.

"I believe our schools can, and should rise to the occasion of re-opening for in-person education this fall," agreed Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) two days later.

"The CDC and Academy of Pediatrics agree: We can safely get students back in classrooms," tweeted House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) last Tuesday.

But while Scalise, Mike Pence, and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have all cited the American Academy of Pediatrics in their arguments for reopening, a new study by the group and the Children's Hospital Association raises red flags about how safe that will be.

Their report found 338,982 reported coronavirus cases in children as of July 30 in the United States. Between July 16 and July 30, the nation saw a 40% increase — 97,078 new infected children.

Last week, a high school student in an Atlanta suburb posted a photo online showing few students wearing masks in a crowded school hallway. Since that time, at least six students and three adult employees in the school have reportedly contracted the coronavirus, and the school temporarily has switched to online classes.

Another Georgia school district has already seen at least 13 students and staff members test positive since reopening a week ago.

A recent study in South Korea found that children aged ten and older spread the coronavirus at the same rates adults do. A separate study in Chicago suggested young kids might also be effective spreaders.

These contradict the false claims made by Trump and his administration that kids have an "amazing" near immunity to COVID-19.

"If you look at children, children are almost — and I would almost say definitely, but almost immune from this disease, so few. They've got stronger, hard to believe, and I don't know how you feel about it, but they have much stronger immune systems than we do somehow for this," Trump told Fox News on Wednesday.

"You got to open the schools. They have a stronger immune system even than you have or I have," he told Barstool Sports on July 23. "It's amazing. You look at the percentage, it's a tiny percentage of one percent. And in that one case, I mean, I looked at a couple of cases. If you have diabetes, if you have, you know, problems with something, but the kids are in great shape." Children have made up nearly nine percent of all cases, even with schools mostly closed.

And DeVos incorrectly said in a July 16 interview, "More and more studies show that kids are actually stoppers of the disease and they don't get it and transmit it themselves."

In early July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines for how schools could operate more safely during the pandemic.

Trump publicly ridiculed the guidelines, dismissing them as "very tough & expensive" and "very impractical."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.