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Danziger: Quacking Up

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.

No ‘Packed Churches On Easter’ As Trump Yields On Social Distancing

Donald Trump extended social distancing guidelines this weekend until at least May, less than a week after saying he thought the nation would be “opened up and just raring to go by Easter.”

During a Monday appearance on Fox News, he said Easter would very likely be the peak of this outbreak, contradicting his earlier claims that the crisis should be done by then.

“We’re doing a lot of things and we don’t want to [end social distancing measures] too soon,” Trump told the network. “Around Easter, that’s going to be the highest point, we think.” He added that he thinks April 30 “is a day where we can see some real progress” and that by June, the death toll will “will be brought to a very low number.”

Despite expert warnings, Trump laid out what he called a “beautiful timeline” last Tuesday, urging that the nation be “opened up and just raring to go by Easter.” Citing his “very special” relationship with the April 12 holiday, he said, “Wouldn’t it be great to have all the churches full? You’ll have packed churches all over our country.”

But Trump’s own medical experts quickly pushed back against this dangerous proposal. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Friday that some states would still be dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in September.

“Everyone’s timeline is going to be different. Some places haven’t hit their peak yet,” he told ABC. “‘We’re trying to give people the testing data to make informed choices. It doesn’t matter if it’s Easter, Memorial Day, or Labor Day.”

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN Thursday that Trump’s Easter timeline was “an aspirational projection to give people some hope” but that with the number of cases increasing dramatically each day, it was “no time to pull back.”

“You don’t make the timeline. The virus makes the timeline,” he added.

As recently as Wednesday, Trump was attacking his critics for doubting his everything-will-be-fine-soon timeline. “The LameStream Media is the dominant force in trying to get me to keep our Country closed as long as possible in the hope that it will be detrimental to my election success,” he tweeted. “The real people want to get back to work ASAP. We will be stronger than ever before!”

A poll last week showed that the vast majority of Americans did not want to end social distancing until it is safe to do so: 81 percent said social distancing should continue “for as long as is needed, even if it means continued damage to the economy.” Just ten percent said the economy was a greater priority.

As of Monday, Trump administration officials were predicting the COVID-19 outbreak could mean more than 200,000 deaths in the United States. Just one month ago, Trump claimed that the number of cases in the United States would soon be “close to zero.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Cuomo Rebuffs Trump’s Political Baiting As ‘Anti-American’

On Monday, Donald Trump was asked by the hosts of Fox & Friends about possibly running in the presidential election against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is not a candidate.

“I wouldn’t mind running against Andrew. I’ve known Andrew for a long time. I wouldn’t mind that, but I’ll be honest, I think he’d be a better candidate than sleepy Joe,” he told the network, using his frequent epithet for former Vice President Joe Biden.

In his daily briefing on the coronavirus, Cuomo pushed back against the notion that he is focused on politics in his current efforts in governing New York.

From a March 30 press briefing:

ANDREW CUOMO: As far as the president’s comment about having a political contest with me, I am not engaging the president in politics. My only goal is to engage the president in partnership. This is no time for politics. And, you know, lead by example.

I’m not going to get into a political dispute with the president, I’m not going to rise to the bait of a political challenge. I’m not running for president, I was never running for president, I said from day one I wasn’t running for president, I’m not running for president now. I’m not playing politics. I just want partnership to deal with this.

And I said to the president quite clearly: Look, when you do good things for my state and you’re a good partner, I will be the first one to say you’re a good partner. And I have. I went to the ship Comfort today, I said, “Thank you, Mr. President.”

We opened up this Javits Center, I said thank you to the Army, they did a great job here, the Army Corps of Engineers. When you help my state, I’ll say thank you.

If I believe that New York is not being served – the federal legislation that they passed – I will say that too.

You know, sometimes it’s simple. Just tell the truth, right? And that’s where we are. Tell the truth. If you’re doing the right thing by New York, I’ll say it. If he’s doing the wrong thing by New York or the rest of the country, I’ll say it.

But I’m not going to engage in politics. Not because I’m unwilling to tangle but because I think it’s inappropriate and I think it’s counterproductive and I think it’s anti-American.

Forget the politics. Forget the politics, we have a national crisis. We are at war. There is no politics. There is no red and blue. It’s red, white, and blue. So let’s get over it and, again, lead by example.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Republican Senators Tout Enhanced Unemployment Benefits They Opposed

Last week, 47 Republican senators and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia voted to make unemployment benefits less generous in the coronavirus relief legislation.

Although their amendment to cap unemployment insurance was unsuccessful, several Republican senators spent the next few days bragging about the more generous benefits in the final bill.

Arizona Sen. Martha McSally

On March 26, McSally’s office sent an email touting the robust benefits she opposed just three earlier. The stimulus bill “makes benefits more generous by adding $600 per week on top of what the state normally pays in unemployment and provides an additional 13 weeks of benefits,” the email said. “And provisions will ensure state and local governments and non-profits can pay unemployment to their employees.”

Texas Sen. John Cornyn

Three days after voting for the amendment to curtail unemployment benefits, Cornyn bragged about the increased assistance in a press release. Cornyn described the legislation as a “lifeline” for families that will help “cover their rent, groceries, electric bills, and other expenses until they can make other arrangements, like apply for unemployment insurance under our beefed up provisions.”

The statement contained a section noting that the bill “expands unemployment insurance for Texas workers,” including “an extra $600 weekly federal UI benefit on top of the state maximum temporarily.”

Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell

McConnell voted against additional benefits, but that did not stop him from touting them just three days later in a March 26 press release.

The release states that the CARES Act “provides additional benefits to each recipient of unemployment insurance for up to four months and an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits after state benefits are no longer available,” adding that it “helps states pay for certain additional unemployment insurance costs.”

Montana Sen. Steve Daines

On the same day the final legislation passed, Daines released a statement bragging about the assistance Montana workers will receive from the legislation.

“The aid package puts Montana workers first, expands unemployment insurance,” Daines’ statement noted. It also referenced “$250 billion for unemployment insurance — this is to give relief to workers who lost their jobs because of this pandemic.”

The statement did not note that the unemployment insurance would have been less generous if Daines had gotten his way.

Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst

Ernst described her vote for the CARES Act as “swift, bold action to deliver immediate aid to folks in Iowa, and across the country,” in a March 25 press release. She bragged that the legislation “bolsters unemployment benefits for workers and provides assistance to self-employed and contractors through a new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.”

The statement does not mention her vote against the bolstered unemployment benefits.

Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler

Not all senators took credit for what they voted against.

Even though she is embroiled in a stock-selling scandal connected with the coronavirus crisis, Loeffler touted her opposition to more generous help for the unemployed during the pandemic.

The multimillionaire senator released a statement two days after voting for stingier unemployment benefits saying she was “disappointed that the amendment to fix the unemployment insurance provisions failed.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.