Five Things to Know Today
Good morning! Some important news items may be getting lost in the ongoing noise of new cases and new closings, so I’m changing things up a bit in today’s FF.
Normally, I try to include links to stories as part of the “five things.” But, I’ve not been able to find good stories for the items I mentioned, so I am turning part of today’s email into more of an “explainer.” Let me know what you think of this approach.
I again encourage you to read the summary story we run each morning covering Gov. Beshear’s press conference from the evening before. The KY Health News people do a great job summarizing the presser, as well as including news from other sources. It is a great way to get up to speed quickly.
And finally, two recent polls are concerning: the level of concern is dramatically uneven across the country, and some people are not taking any actions to slow the spread of the virus. Please help people around you to realize that this is serious, and according to the Surgeon General, about to get worse.
Take care of yourselves. As Gov. Beshear says, we’re going to get through this.
Bruce Maples, publisher
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3/23 update – Beshear says it’s “game time”
Our summary of the daily Beshear press conference, along with the video. Bullet items include: 124 cases in Kentucky, 4 deaths; reporting hotline set up; plans in place to convert hotels to hospitals if needed; fund set up to help other Kentuckians; much more. (Forward Kentucky)
Rand Paul’s ‘me first’ mentality exposed the US Senate to coronavirus
Rand Paul is getting excoriated for his actions after being exposed to the coronavirus, especially for continuing to go about his normal routine while waiting on his test results. Joe Gerth writes: “It’s hard to image a U.S. Senate headed by Mitch McConnell being more toxic than it already was, but congratulations Rand. You did it. (Forward Kentucky)
Things to know about the CV relief bill
There are multiple stories out there about the failure of Congress to pass the coronavirus relief bill, but many of them focus more on the fight than the substance. Here, then, are some things to know:
- Congress is working on a trillion dollar relief bill that combines help for individuals with help for businesses. It is larger than the 2008 bank bailout and 2009 recovery act combined
- The help for individuals started out as a tax item — stopping payment of Social Security taxes in payrolls — but quickly morphed into direct checks to individuals. Both parties agree on the need for the direct payments, but there is some disagreement on how to structure them.
- The help for business is the sticking point. As businesses and lobbyists got wind of the “coronavirus bailout,” they began clamoring for help for their business or industry. Some of the requests seem legitimate — help for restaurants, for example — but others appear to be not as necessary, or even give-aways to big business.
- Example from Matt Stoller: “Take Boeing. The aerospace giant of course wants a $60 billion bailout. Financial problems for this corporation predated the crisis, with the mismanagement that led to the 737 Max as well as defense and space products that don’t work. The corporation paid out $65 billion in stock buybacks and dividends over the last ten years, and it was drawing down credit lines before this crisis hit. It is highly politically connected; the board of the corporation includes Caroline Kennedy, Ronald Reagan’s Chief of Staff Ken Duberstein, three Fortune 100 CEOs, a former US Trade Representative, and two Admirals, one of whom is the board’s only engineer. Using the excuse of the coronavirus, Boeing is trying to get the taxpayer to foot the bill for its errors, so it can go back to making more of them.
- The Democrats, especially, are concerned that much of the help for businesses is simply big checks being handed out without any oversight, and without any guidelines as to what the money can be used for. Will it go to help workers who’ve been laid off, for example, or rather used to buy back more stock, which drives the stock price up and benefits the executives?
- Some Democrats are calling the help for businesses a “500-billion-dollar slush fund.”
- Since this is a fiscal bill, it requires 60 votes to pass the Senate, which means it needs some Democrats to help pass it. And so far, the Democrats are refusing to vote for it unless their concerns are dealt with. This is making McConnell and the Republicans angry, and they are accusing the Dems of holding back aid to Americans. But the sticking point is not the aid to individuals; it is the gigantic checks going to businesses and what businesses will do with them.
- Negotiations continue in both houses of Congress.
Senate, House lawmakers begin task of putting together budget bill
Lawmakers on Monday afternoon began the lengthy process of hammering out differences in the budget bills passed by the House and Senate as a free conference began its work.
“We are undoubtedly in the most unprecedented times that I think anybody has ever seen,” Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, told the panel, which is made up of members of both chambers and both parties.
He noted Gov. Andy Beshear submitted his budget to lawmakers based on revenue projections issued in December for the next two years, by the Consensus Forecasting Group, a committee of financial experts, prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
“There are things that occurred that no one could have foreseen in December,” Stivers said. “I will go back to 9/11/2001. Things happened, nobody expected that, and our budgets had to be drastically changed, based on the events that took place that day.” (Kentucky Today)
Concern about coronavirus depends on age and political party
Coronavirus concern has risen dramatically across Kentucky in the past month. But that rise varies dramatically by age and party. We analyzed the Kentucky results in a nationwide poll, and the numbers are surprising. Let’s take a look. (Forward Kentucky)
Not all stories on Forward Kentucky make it to the top “Five Things” section of the Forward Five! Many stories only show up in the yellow section below, which is a running list of pretty much everything published. So, be sure to scan the lower section each day as well, so you don’t miss anything.
Did you miss any of these?
Featured Content on Forward Kentucky
([new] indicates new since last Forward Five; 🔥 indicates lots of reads)
[new] Retail — Here’s what’s allowed open and ordered close – Directly from the Governor’s executive order, here is the list of retail establishments either ordered closed or allowed to remain open. (read)
Senate budget has much less help for health departments – When presenting bills to help health departments, Rep. Rudy warned, “Our friends down the hallway will have a bite of this apple.” Now they have taken a big bite. (read)
🔥 State Senate approves state budget that could take $1.13 billion from teacher pensions – The KY Senate passed a budget bill taking aim at school teachers in several ways, including dropping the pay increase and taking money from pensions. (read)
🔥 Here’s what made the Trump admin take the coronavirus seriously – After reading a report from the Imperial College of Medicine, the Trump administration got much more serious about COVID-19. What is in that report? (read)
[new] Maddow: Trump’s lies are irresponsible and dangerous – Her recommendation? Stop carrying him live; if you do, you are helping to spread his misinformation, at a time we need straight talk and not happy talk. (view)
[new] Candidates, columnists, historians, and ACLU all agree: SB2 is a bad bill. – What do Booker, Broihier, McGrath, Gerth, Blackford, Clardy, AND the ACLU all agree on? SB 2, the voter ID bill, is a discriminatory, harmful bill. (read)
[new] Virus and virtue – “Crisis” in Chinese is two characters that mean “danger” and “opportunity.” As we face the coronavirus, could this be an opportunity for virtue? (read)
Al Cross: Governor Andy Beshear is showing what he’s made of; it’s sterner stuff than you thought – In our federal republic, the primary responsibility for public health lies with the states, and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has clearly measured up. (read)
🔥 Kentucky vs. Tennessee on coronavirus may be the best example of ‘elections matter’ in years – Kentucky elected Andy Beshear. Tennessee elected Bill Lee. As the coronavirus crisis has unfolded, we see that whom you elect, and what they believe, actually matters. (read)
SB 150 would cushion the blow for unemployed workers and our economy – As thousands lose jobs, unemployment benefits will be critical. Yet too many who lose jobs are not eligible for those benefits. SB 150 helps fix that. (read)
🔥 Trump’s right: Congress should give Americans $1,000 right now to fight the coronavirus recession – Direct payments are just what low-wage Americans suddenly without a paycheck need to endure the crisis, which could last many months. (read)
[live show] SOK Show: Mike Broihier, Dustin Pugel – On this week’s “The State of Kentucky,” we welcome Mike Broihier, candidate for U.S. Senate. Then we talk with Dustin Pugel of KCEP about the state budgets, and what the GA should be doing about the coronavirus crisis. (watch)
[podcast] Coronavirus and Kentucky – Jazmin and Robert practice social distancing by recording from their individual homes while discussing Kentucky’s response to coronavirus and its impact on elections and the legislature. (listen)
Don’t means-test up front; instead, tax the wealthy later – Do the stimulus now, and take care of the means-testing by taxing the wealthy on the back-end. It’s faster, it’s easier, and it makes sense. (read)
Posts with Most Social Media Shares in Past Fourteen Days
(🔥 indicates post with surge of recent shares)
- Here’s what made the Trump admin take the coronavirus seriously (3,000+ shares)
- Kentucky vs. Tennessee on coronavirus may be the best example of ‘elections matter’ in decades (2,000+ shares)
- Massie blasts coronavirus precautions; opponents blast Massie for comments (2,000+ shares)
- House budget cuts state aid to Kentucky libraries. Some might have to close. (787 shares)
- Broihier releases hard-hitting ad against #CoronaMitch (584 shares)
The Forward 5 is published Monday to Friday by Forward Kentucky, an independent media organization focused on progressive news and issues in Kentucky, and is re-posted with permission. You can sign up for the email version of the newsletter on their website.
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