I'm not fan of Biden's, but, let's face it-- his team is moving to stave off multiple catastrophes while Trump is working to guarantee those same catastrophes... and while most Republican elected officials pretend not to notice anything is amiss. Nearly half a million more cases of COVID have been reported by states since Friday. We've had two days in the last week with one day totals exceeding 200,000. A few weeks ago I predicted that by the time Trump was booted out of the White House, one in ten North Dakotans will have or have had COVID. That predication moves up to this week-- with South Dakota right behind them-- and certainly long before Trump is down in Mar-A-Lago fighting extradition to New York.
How many states have zero ICU beds left? Some states are gradually starting to make the painful decision to begin shutting down again, ensuring a worse recession than the one Trump has already baked into the cake. Biden's team, hobbled by a vicious and vindictive Trump, is pushing to be able to hit the ground running on Jan. 20... which seems a very long way off with Trump still nursing his wounds and plotting revenge against Biden, against Fox, against Republicans who he feels aren't helping him with his coup attempt and, most of all, against the American people who voted him out of office, making him the biggest loser of the biggest loser year.
Yesterday, NY Times reporters Jim Tankersley and Emily Cochrane wrote that Team Biden is planning for a double dip recession early in the new year and "are pushing for Democratic leaders in Congress to reach a quick [lameduck session] stimulus deal with Senate Republicans, even if it falls short of the larger [$2 trillion] package Democrats have been seeking... Many of the president-elect’s advisers have become convinced that deteriorating economic conditions from the renewed surge in Covid-19 infections and the looming threat of millions of Americans losing jobless benefits in December amid a wave of evictions and foreclosures require more urgent action before year’s end. That could mean moving at least part of the way toward Mr. McConnell’s offer of a $500 billion package.
Biden’s team is also considering a range of other policy options for fighting a renewed downturn and the prospect of rising unemployment when he takes office, according to the people familiar with his plans. Some of them, like a sweeping spending bill that includes all or large parts of his campaign proposals for infrastructure, could depend on Democrats winning Senate control in two special elections in Georgia in January.
Others would not require Congress. Mr. Biden’s aides have weighed having the president-elect announce in the coming weeks that he will sign executive orders on his first day in office extending moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures, and deferrals of some student loan payments that are set to expire at the end of the year, the people familiar with the discussions said. He could also announce that he will sign an order providing a more gradual schedule for repayment of payroll taxes that some employers, including the federal government, had deferred into 2021 under an executive order issued by President Trump.
Such orders could lessen or avoid an economic cliff of expiring protections for renters, homeowners and some borrowers, which experts fear could hasten an economic contraction.
The Biden team is also exploring how to circumvent a last-minute move by the Trump administration to end Federal Reserve lending programs that have helped stabilize markets by requiring the central bank to return hundreds of billions of dollars to the Treasury Department, according to the people familiar with the discussions. One possibility would be for Mr. Biden’s Treasury to reissue that money to the Fed under new parameters meant to encourage more aid to small and medium-sized businesses than previously supplied.
But the most important measure could be quick congressional approval of a stimulus bill.
...“The pandemic is raging, and it’s starting to do damage again,” said Mark Zandi, an economist at Moody’s Analytics.
Economists close to Mr. Biden and his campaign are circulating a spreadsheet containing new projections from Mr. Zandi, which predict that the economy will begin to shrink again in the first half of next year unless lawmakers break a prolonged impasse in stimulus talks... Zandi projected, and the unemployment rate would climb from its current rate of 6.9 percent back to nearly 10 percent.
Jared Bernstein, an economist at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities who was part of Mr. Biden’s inner circle of economic aides in the campaign, said that “speed, size and composition are all important” in a stimulus agreement, “but speed is especially important.”
...Economists are increasingly stressing the need for lawmakers to act quickly, even if that means reaching agreement on smaller package. A bipartisan group convened by the Aspen Institute’s Economic Strategy Group-- including former Treasury secretaries under Democratic and Republican administrations-- urged lawmakers on Thursday to approve a package that includes aid to small businesses, individuals and state and local governments, saying the economy “cannot wait until 2021” for relief.
“What I’m really worried about is the millions of people who are going to be without food or without a home during the winter,” said Melissa S. Kearney, the economist who directs the strategy group. “That level of individual suffering, really, to me, should be everyone’s priority and move them past their political differences.”
Yesterday, in the Washington Post, Dan Balz speculated that a vindictive Trump is consciously trying to undermine Biden's presidency. He wrote that Trump "is determined to cripple Biden’s presidency even before it becomes official. No defeated president has ever undertaken such an audacious and anti-democratic act. There are short-term and longer-term consequences that could deeply affect Biden’s ability to govern" and Americans' ability to survive and prosper.
Balz called it "a mean-spirited effort on the part of the president to gum up what should be an orderly, nonpartisan process" and named two things currently blocked by Trump that could cause problems in the early days of Biden's presidency. "One is the lack of access to the information about plans for distributing hundreds of millions of doses of a coronavirus vaccine. Getting the vaccine to as many Americans as possible-- and persuading as many Americans as possible to take it-- will fall on Biden’s shoulders. The earlier his team is on top of this, the better it will be for everyone. A second problem is the lack of access to the FBI to begin the background checks required for senior positions, including Cabinet nominees. The longer those are delayed, the more likely Biden will begin his term with many Cabinet nominees awaiting confirmation, adding to the burdens of the new White House staff to run the government.
Two questions arise: Will Trump seek to use his influence as the titular head of the GOP to push Republican lawmakers to scuttle Biden’s priorities? Will Biden be forced to trim his sails-- at the risk of an intraparty battle with the left-- to seek even modest bipartisan support?
...[S]ome analysts see the greatest threat to Biden’s presidency as the likelihood of a four-year effort to undermine the new administration, led by a vindictive Trump. He has always looked for scapegoats when things don’t go his way, and in this, the greatest setback of his life, he has manufactured the perfect excuse: He was robbed.
“I’m afraid that as ex-president, Trump is going to keep up a steady drumbeat . . . to try to drive home one point: that the election was stolen from him, that Joe Biden is an illegitimate president and that this can only be resolved by Biden’s removal from office through an election and his replacement by Donald J. Trump,” said William Galston of the Brookings Institution.
This assault on the system, the government, the integrity of elections, the institutions of democracy, and on the truth, means Biden will take the oath of office with perhaps a third or more of the electorate viewing him as illegitimate. No amount of wooing will bring them around however genuine Biden is in his outreach.
Biden has been careful so far, as he was during the campaign, not to get into a mud slinging match with the president. He has maintained his call for unity and expressed his determination to be a president who helps to heal the country. He may have no other choice, even at the expense of progress on some of his agenda.
...Before the election, Trump repeatedly declined to say he would assure a peaceful transition of power and now it’s clear that he never intended to accept defeat. Persily equated the unfolding events with “the kind of thing you see in struggling democracies around the world, where large factions are unwilling to put down their arms from the campaign.” This is the America Biden will inherit in just over eight weeks, with an ex-president in exile plotting a possible return.
If you've been following the unfolding of events here at DWT, you already know that I have written over and over that this is all part of Trump's negotiation for a blanket pardon for himself as his crooked family. I suspect Biden will give in to him and he'll gradually go away and stop bothering everyone. Until then... well Michael Shear wrote about some of the things Trump is doing to screw up Biden's presidency. "During the past four years," wrote Shear, "Trump has not spent much time thinking about policy, but he has shown a penchant for striking back at his adversaries. And with his encouragement, top officials are racing against the clock to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, secure oil drilling leases in Alaska, punish China, carry out executions and thwart any plans Mr. Biden might have to reestablish the Iran nuclear deal. In some cases, like the executions and the oil leases, Mr. Trump’s government plans to act just days-- or even hours-- before Mr. Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20. At a wide range of departments and agencies, Mr. Trump’s political appointees are going to extraordinary lengths to try to prevent Mr. Biden from rolling back the president’s legacy. They are filling vacancies on scientific panels, pushing to complete rules that weaken environmental standards, nominating judges and rushing their confirmations through the Senate, and trying to eliminate health care regulations that have been in place for years. In the latest instance, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin declined to extend key emergency lending programs that the Federal Reserve had been using to help keep credit flowing to businesses, state and local governments and other parts of the financial system. He also moved to claw back much of the money that supports them, hindering Mr. Biden’s ability to use the central bank’s vast powers to cushion the economic fallout from the virus."
Terry Sullivan, a professor of political science and the executive director of the White House Transition Project, a nonpartisan group which has studied presidential transitions for decades, said Mr. Trump was not behaving like past presidents who cared about how their final days in office shaped their legacy.
“They are upping tension in Iran, which could lead to a confrontation. The economy is tanking and they are not doing anything about unemployment benefits,” he said.
It is one final norm shattered by Mr. Trump-- and a stark contrast to the last Republican president who handed over power to a Democrat.
...[F]ar from seeking to help Mr. Biden’s team, Mr. Trump has spent more than two weeks actively seeking to undermine the legitimacy of his victory.
...Some of Mr. Trump’s advisers make no attempt to hide the fact that their actions are aimed at deliberately hamstringing Mr. Biden’s policy options even before he begins.
One administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of not being authorized to talk publicly, said that in the coming days there would be more announcements made related in particular to China, with whom Trump advisers believe that Mr. Biden would try to improve relations.
...Some of Mr. Trump’s actions are all but permanent, like the nomination of judges with lifetime appointments or the naming of his supporters to government panels with terms that stretch beyond Mr. Biden’s likely time in office. Once done, there is little that the new president can do to reverse them.
...Trump officials are also working to impose new sanctions on Iran that may be difficult for Mr. Biden to reverse, out of a fear of opening himself up to charges that he is soft on one of the country’s most dangerous adversaries.
The sanctions could also undermine any move by Mr. Biden to return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, a step that would require providing Iran with economic breathing room after years of Mr. Trump’s constrictions.
“I think you’re going to see a pretty rapid clip of new actions before January 20,” said Mark Dubowitz, the chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, who often consults with the Trump administration on Iran.
In an Oval Office meeting last week, Mr. Trump also asked his senior advisers what military options were available to him in response to Iran’s stockpiling of nuclear material, although he was dissuaded from pursuing the idea. Any military action would undermine attempts by Mr. Biden to reset American policy.
Similarly, Trump officials continue to take punitive actions against China that are likely to further strain the tense relationship with Beijing that Mr. Biden will inherit. Last week, Mr. Trump issued an executive order barring Americans from investing in Chinese companies with ties to China’s military. Administration officials say more steps are in the works.
Mr. Mnuchin’s shutdown of emergency lending programs this week could also have long-lasting implications for Mr. Biden as the new president struggles to contain the economic fallout of the pandemic. The pandemic-era programs are run by the Fed but use Treasury money to insure against losses.
And it isn't only Trump, of course. McConnell is in on it as well. Reporting last night for Axios, Alayna Treene, wrote that Republicans are making plans to torpedo some of Biden's Cabinet, agency and judicial nominees if the GOP keeps its majority. (If you want to make sure they don't, you have two choices: pray McConnell and a couple other Senate Republicans die-- can I suggest Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham, blots on humanity each-- or help Warnock and Ossoff win in Georgia January 5th. One way to help that second effort is to contribute directly to their campaigns: here</a>.) Or both-- prayer and contributions.