Economics, Library, Politics

OurWeek in Politics (May 6, 2020 – May 13, 2020)

Here are the main events that occurred in Politics this week

1. US Unemployment Rate Hits Highest Level In 80 Years

The Labor Department announced this week that the unemployment rate in the US has hit its highest level since 1939 amid measures to limit the spread of the Coronavirus.

The US unemployment rate jumped to 14.7 percent in April, the highest level recorded since 1939, as many businesses shut down or severely curtailed operations to try to limit the spread of the Coronavirus. The Labor Department said 20.5 million people abruptly lost their jobs, wiping out a decade of employment gains in a single month. The speed and magnitude of the loss defy comparison. It is roughly double what the nation experienced during both the Recession of 1980-82, as well as the 2007-2010 Financial Crisis (the so-called Subprime Mortgage Crisis).

As the Coronavirus spread accelerated in March, President Donald Trump and a number of state and local leaders put forth restrictions that led businesses to suddenly shut down and shed millions of workers. Many businesses and households also canceled all travel plans. Analysts warn it could take as long as five years to return to the 3.5% unemployment rate the nation recorded in February, in part because it is unclear what the post-pandemic economy will look like, even if scientists make progress on a vaccine. President Trump, though, claimed in a Fox News interview that there would be a quick rebound. “Those jobs will all be back, and they’ll be back very soon,” Trump said. Former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump’s expected opponent in November’s presidential election, said that the jobs report illustrated “an economic disaster” that was “made worse” in part by a slow and uneven response to the crisis earlier this year.

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2. 2020 Election Polling: Joe Biden Leads Donald Trump Nationwide

2020 Election polling released this week shows former Vice President Joe Biden with a clear lead over President Donald Trump.

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden‘s lead over President Donald Trump now stands at five points, but Trump has an edge in the critical battleground states that could decide the electoral college, according to a new CNN poll. In the new poll, 51% of registered voters nationwide back Biden, while 46% say they prefer Trump, while in the battlegrounds, 52% favor Trump and 45% Biden. Partisans are deeply entrenched in their corners, with 95% of Democrats behind Biden and the same share of Republicans behind Trump. The two are close among independents (50% back Trump, 46% Biden, not a large enough difference to be considered a lead), but Biden’s edge currently rests on the larger share of voters who identify as Democrats. The former Vice President continues to hold healthy leads among women (55% Biden to 41% Trump) and African-Americans (69% Biden to 26% Trump). The two run more closely among men (50% Trump to 46% Biden) and Trump holds a clear edge among whites (55% Trump to 43% Biden). Surprisingly, the poll suggests Biden outpaces Trump among voters over age 45 by a 6-point margin, while the two are near even among those under age 45 (49% Biden to 46% Trump).

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3. House Democrats Unveil $3 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Package

Amid Republican opposition, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a $3 trillion Coronavirus relief package this week.

House Democrats on May 12 unveiled a $3 trillion Coronavirus relief measure, an ambitious package with aid for struggling states and another round of direct payments to Americans that Republicans instantly dismissed as an exorbitantly priced and overreaching response to the Coronavirus crisis. The proposal, which spanned 1,815 pages, would add a fifth installment to an already sweeping assistance effort from the federal government, although its cost totaled more than the four previous measures combined. And unlike those packages, which were the product of intense bipartisan negotiations among lawmakers and administration officials who agreed generally on the need for rapid and robust action, the House bill represents an opening gambit in what is likely to be a bracing fight over what is needed to counter the public health and economic tolls of the pandemic. The new proposal includes nearly $1 trillion for state, local and tribal governments and territories, an extension of unemployment benefits, and another round of $1,200 direct payments to American families. The measure would also provide a $25 billion bailout for the Postal Service, which the beleaguered agency has called a critical lifeline, but President Trump has opposed, and $3.6 billion to bolster election security. 

“There are those who said, ‘Let’s just pause,’ ” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, invoking a word used by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who has said lawmakers should “push the pause button” on further coronavirus aid. “The families who are suffering know that hunger doesn’t take a pause. The rent doesn’t take a pause. The bills don’t take a pause. The hardship of losing a job or tragically losing a loved one doesn’t take a pause.” Senate Republicans immediately rejected the measure. But the House will return to session on May 15 to approve it, Democratic leaders said, along with historic changes to the chamber’s rules that will allow lawmakers for the first time to vote without being physically present in the Capitol. 

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4. In A Major Defeat For Civil Liberty Advocates, Senate Rejects Proposal Limiting Federal Law Enforcement Officials From Obtaining Internet Search History Data Without A Warrant

The Senate this week rejected a proposal by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) to limit federal law enforcement officials from obtaining internet search history data without a warrant.

The Senate came one vote short on May 12 of approving a proposal to prevent federal law enforcement from obtaining internet browsing information or search history without seeking a warrant. The bipartisan amendment won a solid majority of the Senate but just shy of the 60 votes needed for adoption. The 59-37 vote to allow such warrantless searches split both parties, with Republicans and Democrats voting for and against. The amendment’s authors, Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon and Republican Senator Steve Daines of Montana, have long opposed the expansion and renewal of surveillance laws that the government uses to track and fight terrorists. They say the laws can infringe on people’s rights. “Should law-abiding Americans have to worry about their government looking over their shoulders from the moment they wake up in the morning and turn on their computers to when they go to bed at night?” Wyden asked. “I believe the answer is no. But that’s exactly what the government has the power to do without our amendment.”

The amendment vote came as the Senate considered the renewal of three surveillance provisions that expired in March before Congress left due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The legislation is a bipartisan, House-passed compromise that has the backing of President Donald Trump, Attorney General William Barr, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It would renew the authorities and impose new restrictions to try and appease civil liberties advocates. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), encouraged senators to vote against Wyden and Daines’ amendment, saying the legislation was already a “delicate balance.” He warned changing it could mean the underlying provisions won’t be renewed. “We cannot let the perfect become the enemy of the good when key authorities are currently sitting expired and unusable,” McConnell said on the Senate floor before the vote. The House passed the compromise legislation shortly before the chamber left town two months ago, but McConnell could not find enough support to approve the measure in the Senate, and instead passed a simple extension of the surveillance laws. The close outcome on the Wyden and Daines amendment indicates that a majority of the Senate would like to see the House legislation changed to better protect civil liberties.

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This article was originally published on OurPolitics.net by Matthew Rose, May 2020. See Original Post

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About Matthew Rose

Matt studies and analyzes politics at all levels. He is the creator of OurPolitics.net, a scholarly resource exploring political trends, political theory, political economy, philosophy, and more. He hopes that his articles can encourage more people to gain knowledge about politics and understand the impact that public policy decisions have on their lives. Matt is also involved in the preservation of recorded sound through IASA International Bibliography of Discographies, and is an avid record collector.

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