A pathetic excuse for waiting too long on the relief bill

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QUOTE OF THE DAY

"Pushing the pause button meant seeing how what we have already done is working… It allowed us to learn the coronavirus didn't mysteriously disappear. It's still here."— Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to the NY Times on why he slow-walked the coronavirus aid bill.

WHAT'S HAPPENING

National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre speaks at the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action Leadership Forum in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.Associated Press

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VIEWS OF THE DAY

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), speaks to reporters about the proposed Senate Republican tax billMark Wilson/Getty Images

This doesn't have to be so hard

Over the past few days it's become clear that the GOP's new messaging about the coronavirus is going to be that we're doing about as well as we could be doing. As Trump said in an interview with Axios on HBO this week, "it is what it is." 

And in an interview with the New York Times, Mitch McConnell told reporters that he didn't cooperate with Democrats on a new coronavirus aid bill back in May because we needed to make sure the coronavirus wouldn't "mysteriously disappear."

Of course, we didn't need magic to tell us the coronavirus wouldn't go away by itself. This isn't the Dark Ages. The United States has some of the best public health officials, scientists, and doctors in the world, and they told us it wouldn't be gone by now. In fact they told us a lot of things – that there would be "serious consequences" if lockdowns were too short, for example.

McConnell and Trump would have you believe that we're fumbling around in the dark, that we know nothing. But now we know quite a lot, and choosing ignorance as they're doing is making this crisis so much harder.

This extends to the economy too. Mitch would have you believe that Congress is so ineffectual it can't make effective, proactive policy. It's bad enough that he waited until the last minute to work with Democrats or form any kind of plan, it's even worse that better policies for helping people while also dealing with Republican concerns about spending are being ignored.

Here's an example. Back in April Democratic House members Ro Khanna of California and Tim Ryan of Ohio introduced a bill called the "Emergency Money for the People Act." It proposed that every American over 16 years old receive a $2,000 monthly check until the unemployment rate returned to pre-crisis levels.

Congress could've (and should've) argued about the benefit, but tying any benefit to the unemployment rate solves a Republican problem. The GOP has argued that we have to lower the $600 emergency federal unemployment benefit because some workers are making more than they would at work. But if that benefit phased out as more Americans returned to work, those who make more than the benefit would go back to work, pushing the unemployment rate down and the benefit with it. As the economy improved, people would also be incentivized to get off of the benefit.

Mitch told the NYT that he was being cautious about aid because "this is not play money." He's right, it's our money. And if that money isn't making sure every American can eat during a global crisis, I don't know what it's for. This country has everything it needs to get through this pandemic — the money, the scientists, everything — but the White House and the GOP refuse to use any of this, so their message is that we couldn't do any better. It's mortifying. — Linette Lopez

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Have reporters learned absolutely nothing over the past four years?

Yahoo News asked Joe Biden if he'd taken a cognitive test, and he responded by asking "why the hell" would he? The interview was a new low for journalism during this 2020 campaign, which is unfortunate given Axios' great Trump interview released on Monday (we had been doing so well!).

While Biden's response could've been finessed a bit, he's right. Why would you ask a presidential candidate if they've taken a test normally given to people who have suffered a stroke? Are presidential candidates normally asked to draw a cube to see if they are qualified to run the free world?

This question happened because the reporter, Errol Barnett, fell for a trap laid by Trump and his surrogates. 

Because the President has demonstrated cognitive weakness, the campaign is trying to drag Joe Biden into the same bucket. If it can normalize the fact that Trump took this troubling test, and make the election a choice between two equally dull-witted old guys, fewer Americans will be inclined toward Biden.

It seems hypocritical when Trump surrogates, like his kids, try to make something of Biden's cognitive decline on social media or in interviews. But they don't care about hypocrisy. Their mission is not to seem reasonable and smart, it's to muddy the differences between Trump and Biden ahead of the election.

Floating the idea that Biden should take the same test as Trump is very much like the time the Trump campaign invited women who accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct to one of Trump's debates with Hillary Clinton. They wanted to not only rattle Clinton, but associate her with the same horrific behavior as Trump. Because Trump cannot go higher, he and his team try to drag their opponent lower. As a reporter, it is your job to be smart enough not to help them. —LL

Joe Biden, architect of mass drug testing, mocks the idea that someone would have to take a drug test before doing their job.

The presumptive Democratic nominee was interviewed yesterday as part of a National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) virtual town hall. When asked by CBS News' Errol Barnett if he's taken the cognitive test that Trump has bragged that he "aced."

Biden responded: "No, I haven't taken a test. Why the hell would I take a test? C'mon man, that's like saying, 'You — before you got on this program you took a test where you're taking cocaine or not, what do you think? Huh? Are you a junkie?'"

The former vice president's lack of self-awareness isn't just ironic, it's infuriating. 

There is perhaps no single Democratic politician who did more in their decades-long career to ratchet up the drug war than Joe Biden. He pushed Reagan's GOP to be more punitive on drugs, personally crafted the legislation that created a federal drug czar, and sponsored several bills that called for mandatory drug testing of released prisoners and public employees. 

It's because of influential lawmakers like Biden, who made the drug war a hallmark of their "public service," that drug testing at many private workplaces has been the norm for decades. 

So, yes, Mr. Vice President, it's entirely possible that someone interviewing you works for a corporation that — without reasonable suspicion — requires they take a test that proves they are not "a junkie" as a prerequisite for doing their job. 

As Biden might say, "C'mon, man." — Anthony Fisher

In this July 21, 2016, file photo, confetti and balloons fall during celebrations after Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's acceptance speech on the final day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.Associated Press/Matt Rourke

The political conventions are almost here, kinda

We're just 11 days away from the beginning of the Democratic National Convention, which is to be followed five days later by the beginning of the Republican National Convention.

Details are remarkably sparse but the DNC has scaled back its plans even further, with Biden no longer traveling to Milwaukee to accept the nomination. He'll instead be giving his speech virtually from his home in Delaware, and all the rest of the party's luminaries will give their speeches remotely, as well. 

So what exactly is going to happen in Milwaukee if none of the speakers is there to speak and none of the delegates are there to vote? 

The Republicans' chaotic convention plans are also constantly changing. 

The original RNC in Charlotte was to be moved to Jacksonville, but just the televised pageant part — all the "business" of the convention would still be done in Charlotte. But the Charlotte portion would be moved up a few days, beginning the day after the DNC ended instead of the following Monday. Then Trump cancelled the Jacksonville RNC show, given the whole Florida COVID spike. Then the RNC said the press would be denied access to the Charlotte event, which would still have four nights of televised programming. 

Now Trump says he may accept his nomination virtually from the White House, which as a campaign event on federal government property, might not even be legal. 

I've written before about how the conventions are bloated, absurd, insular displays of hyper-partisanship. But as Republican pollster Frank Luntz told me in May: "It's still part of the political process. If you don't have the convention, it will signal that America's still not back on its feet."

It's August, the conventions are basically not happening in any recognizable form, and America is very much not on its feet. — AF

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