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Sen. Graham Supports Gov. Cuomo On Pandemic Protocols

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

President Donald Trump has been expressing his impatience with social distancing, implying that too much of it could be unnecessarily bad for the U.S. economy. But New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, on the other hand, has asserted that aggressive social distancing and an economic recovery are not mutually exclusive — and Sen. Lindsey Graham, known for being one of Trump’s most vigorous defenders, is expressing his agreement with Cuomo.

In a March 24 Twitter thread, the South Carolina Republican posted, “Listened to New York Governor Cuomo’s explanation of how to balance reopening the economy against public health concerns. He rightfully said we can do both, but it must be done smartly, always erring on the side of public health.”

Cuomo, son of the late New York Gov. Mario Cuomo and brother of CNN’s Chris Cuomo, has maintained that if the U.S. doesn’t practice comprehensive social distancing now, the economy will be even worse off in the longrun.

Graham, in his thread, also said of Andrew Cuomo, “His statement, that younger workers and those who have built up antibodies are prime candidates to soon go back into the workforce, makes perfect sense to me.”

Graham went on to say, “Any decision needs to be based on healthcare data with the goal of ensuring we defeat the virus, not promoting its spread.”

One Twitter user, @NancyNSCH — an avowed Trump supporter — chastised Graham for saying something favorable about Cuomo, posting, “You should listen to your President.” But @susan52132641 told @NancyNSCH, “I listen to people who actually understand what is happening, like Dr. (Anthony) Fauci and Governor Cuomo.”

@RicoSuaveJD posted, “Trump isn’t doing it smartly.”

Markets Erase All Gains During Trump Presidency

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid yet again on Wednesday, erasing all of the gains it had made since Donald Trump took office — as well as a key argument Trump has made for his reelection in November.

When Trump took office, the Dow stood at 19,827 points. On Wednesday, that number was even lower — 19,520 at the time of publication.

That’s down from a high of 29,398 on Feb. 14.

The market has struggled for weeks amid the growing COVID-19 outbreak. On Wednesday, the latest drop triggered the fourth automatic halt in trading in a month.

The stock market slide — thanks to economic fallout from the outbreak and related business closures — could spell trouble for Trump’s reelection hopes.

Trump has long touted stock market gains as evidence that voters should give him a second term in office.

More specifically, he has claimed that Americans’ 401k retirement accounts were performing well because of him.

“STOCK MARKET AT ALL-TIME HIGH! HOW ARE YOUR 401K’S DOING?” Trump tweeted in on Jan. 9. “70 percent, 80 percent, 90 percent up? Only 50 percent up! What are you doing wrong?”

He also touted market gains in his State of the Union speech in February.

“Since my election, U.S. stock markets have soared 70 percent, adding more than $12 trillion to our nation’s wealth, transcending anything anyone believed was possible,” Trump said. “This is a record. It is something that every country in the world is looking up to. They admire. Consumer confidence has just reached amazing new highs.”

He added, “All of those millions of people with 401ks and pensions are doing far better than they have ever done before with increases of 60, 70, 80, 90 and 100 percent, and even more.”

Trump has similarly celebrated market milestones, suggesting they were tied to his success as president.

“New Stock Market RECORD. Congratulations, spend your money wisely. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!!!!!” Trump tweeted just a few weeks ago on Feb. 11. 

He even used the stock market success as reason why he shouldn’t be impeached and removed from office.

“STOCK MARKET CLOSES AT ALL-TIME HIGH! What a great time for the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats to Impeach your favorite President, especially since he has not done anything wrong!” Trump tweeted on Dec. 23, 2019, days after he was impeached by the House of Representatives.

Those gains, however, are now gone, as investors fear the loss of business and jobs thanks to the drastic social distancing measures that have been put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Trump has yet to comment on the stock market losses.

He did, however, comment on a gain a few days ago.

“BIGGEST STOCK MARKET RISE IN HISTORY YESTERDAY!” Trump tweeted on March 14 after the market recovered briefly from an otherwise dramatic loss one day prior.

All of those gains have since been erased.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

U.S. Payrolls Gains Beat Expectations, Wages Rise

U.S. employment increased more than expected in July and wages picked up, which should bolster expectations of an acceleration in economic growth and raise the probability of an interest rate hike from the Federal Reserve this year.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 255,000 jobs last month as hiring rose broadly after an upwardly revised 292,000 surge in June, the Labor Department said on Friday.

The unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.9 percent as more people entered the labor market. Highlighting labor market strength, average hourly wages increased a healthy eight cents. Maypayrolls were revised up to 24,000 from the previously reported 11,000.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast payrolls increasing 180,000 in July and the unemployment rate dipping one-tenth of a percentage point to 4.8 percent.

Last month’s strong job growth should reinforce the Fed’s confidence in a labor market that officials view as at or near full employment. Fed Chair Janet Yellen has said the economy needs to create just under 100,000 jobs a month to keep up with population growth.

The second straight month of robust job gains is a boost to an economy after growth averaged a 1.0 percent annual rate in the last three quarters. After a policy meeting last month, the Fed described the labor market as having “strengthened” and said it appeared it was still tightening.

The U.S. central bank raised interest rates at the end of last year for the first time in nearly a decade, but has held them steady since amid concerns over persistently low inflation. Most economists expect another rate hike in December, though financial markets have almost priced out that possibility.

The 0.3 percent increase in average hourly earnings left the year-on-year gain at 2.6 percent.

The payrolls data added to July auto sales in underscoring the economy’s sound fundamentals. Economic growth is expected to accelerate to at least a 2.5 percent annualized rate in the second quarter.

But with the bulk of labor market slack largely absorbed and the economy’s recovery from the 2007-2009 recession showing signs of aging, payroll gains will probably drift to average between 150,000 and 160,000 jobs per month later this year, economists say.

Manufacturing sector employment increased by 9,000 jobs in July after adding 15,000 positions in June. Construction payrolls rose 14,000 following three consecutive months of declines. While mining shed a further 7,000 jobs in July.

Other details of the employment report showed a rise in the labor force. That raised the participation rate, or the share of working-age Americans who are employed or at least looking for a job, by one-tenth of a percentage point to 62.8 percent.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Paul Simao) ((Lucia.Mutikani@thomsonreuters.com; 1 202 898 8315; Reuters Messaging: lucia.mutikani.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)

Photo: People enter the Nassau County Mega Job Fair at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York October 7, 2014. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

New Study Proves America’s ‘Takers’ Are Better Givers Than Miserly Rich

Do we need still another reason to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans? Fresh moral support for higher levies on the top bracket arrived today from the Chronicle of Philanthropy, which reports that charitable giving among the rich fell during the Great Recession – yet rose simultaneously among the poor, middle class, and working families that had much less to give.

It is a remarkable set of statistics, drawn from IRS data, which ought to shame every fat-cat who ever complained about the “47 percent,” or the “takers.” According to the Chronicle, those who earned more than $200,000 annually gave an average of 4.6 percent less between 2006 and 2012, while those who earned less than $100,000 gave an average of 4.5 percent more during that same period. (Because the rich were taking home a much greater share of national income during those years, however, the total amount they donated to charity nevertheless increased by $4.6 billion.)

And the very poorest Americans – from households that earned $25,000 or less per year – actually increased their giving by almost 17 percent.

Chronicle editor Stacy Palmer says that the economic downturn “was a shock” to the nation’s wealthiest taxpayers, who are “nervous and cautious” in their giving. By contrast, poor and working people, living only a step or two away from destitution, reached deeper into their pockets to help friends and neighbors whose troubles they witness every day.

Instead of hoping that the rich will provide charitable assistance where needed, we should tax them a bit more and avoid future cuts to food stamps, unemployment insurance, and other vital programs. (A 4 percent hike in the top rate sounds just right.) Meanwhile, the self-righteous swells can cease lecturing about the deficient character of the supposed takers – who are clearly the most virtuous and compassionate members of society.