Notes on the economy and coronavirus issues
Notes on the economy and coronavirus issues
As is obvious, I have stopped reporting on almost all incoming economic data, as anything older than last week is out of date. But once the last important February data is reported tomorrow, I will take one last fond look back at our pre- Coronavirus Recession economy. How close to recession was it?
I also want to write a few more detailed posts on several points. But for now, let me leave a quick note about some important issues going forward.
1. The federal government under Donald Trump is NEVER going to do what is necessary to bring this pandemic under control. Success is only going to be achieved by cooperative action by the States.
2. As I forecast, the increasing urgency of the pandemic has put the States under enormous public pressure to take more effective action. Most, especially the “blue” States and some Eastern, Midwestern, and a few Mountain West “red” States have done so. But Southern “red” States in particular continue to resist, and probably will continue to do so until it is too late – although ultimately they too will respond to pressures from their publics.
3. Now that there are essentially two regions of the country under lockdowns: (1) Northeast + upper Midwest and (2) West Coast + upper Mountain States + New Mexico + Colorado, they need to cooperate to test and quarantine incoming visitors. This will require closing down their airports, seaports, and train stations to passenger traffic, or alternatively quarantining those arrivals for 14 days. Highway checkpoints also need to be set up at the borders of the regions, with similar restrictions. This is the only way to prevent carriers of the virus from recalcitrant States from undercutting the efforts of States in lockdown.
4. There is a fair amount of support among the Young Invulnerables for a modified “let ‘er rip” scenario. The idea is to let younger people go back to work, and just lock down older people and those with heightened risk. It wouldn’t work, for two reasons: (1) about 2% of the younger population will need intensive medical intervention, and even that will outstrip the US’s ICU capacity, even without accounting for infections among the more at risk plus unrelated needs; and (2) there is no way that younger people are going to stay away from those above the age cutoff for months at a time. So the age-dated “cordon sanitaire” would leak like a sieve.
5. I do not think the federal government can continue to pass $Trillions in business stimulus indefinitely until the pandemic is brought under control. I believe that ***debt relief*** will be a far more effective and less costly method. Essentially, everybody gets a debt holiday through, say, June 30 (i.e., you don’t have to pay your mortgage, rent, or car or student loan payment). The missing payments are added on at the end of the existing term of the loan. Ultimately almost all creditors will wind up being banks, and the FDIC and the Fed, with the assistance of Congress, can step in to make sure they stay liquid and their depositors get interest payments. I need to flesh this out a lot more, but the above is the essence of the idea.
Income is what is needed, not debt relief. Debt is just a bill that some owe and others don’t. But those that don’t have much debt have their own set of bills and often that has been shaped by the choices that lead them not having a lot of debt. If a program to add another $600 to every household a month for the duration is needed, fine. Those who need the money for debt payments use it. Those who need the money for other bills use it.
I suggest that we should not get hung-up on where the official lockdowns are happening and where they aren’t. Trump might be wrong about getting back up to speed by Easter. He probably is. But he is dead-on that there is a short window of time to get buy-in on this and the buy-in is going to have to be income maintenance in a very clear and convincing manner. Too many mixed messages. “Your state is locked-down for the good of society but your employer can fire you during the lockdown and we have a really complicated bunch of stuff that might not reach you if you earned $100,000 even if that goes to $0 in 10 days. Oh, and we decided to help your neighbor with his RV loan payments but since you paid your son’s autism therapists and educators out of pocket, the heck with you.” People mostly will try to be responsible, but the problem many are facing and will face is “responsible for who, exactly?”. This is not a good disease, but it is not Ebola and younger folks understand this too well to expect them to not factor that into their own behavior. And that is not likely to be heavily influenced by blue, red, green, magenta or orange states. Some states would do better than others but if 8% disobedience wrecks the scheme, well better find a way quick to get buy-in from the 8% most loosely attached to this idea.
Trump’s strategy employs wedging urban v rural, region v region, south v others – it is a nasty sinister thing to animate this. Even the frictions and invidious civil disorders that are likely to arise serve his interests in appearing to be a strongman.
Thank goodness we have a political system that has States predominant in public health and safety. They have the polis power, the general or national government does not.
Can you imagine if this president could simply order people back to work.
Let me see, if States were threatened in terms of their abilities to hold elections, a president might be able to invoke the Article IV, Section 4 guarantee to effect a martial response. Oh wait, his people are raising questions about holding elections – conspiracy thinking sure, but this is not funny.
Please States act. Congress, grant an interstate commerce permission in one of these emergency bills and use the provision to remind the Courts to question autocratic efforts and halt these from invading self-government within the States – using the same guarantee clause in the Constitution.
Effect a martial or marital response? Both actions are in his norm. Fixed it. Interesting word “Polis” and not one I am accustom to reading . . . “a city state in ancient Greece, especially as considered in its ideal form for philosophical purposes.”
And no, I could not imagine this president ordering anybody doing anything and have them do so out of respect.
Bad news for MI and NY.
“In case you missed it, El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago went on teevee with Sean Hannity on Thursday night and explained in rather precise detail how his pandemic shakedown is going to work. For example, he is not happy with Gretchen Whitmer, the Democratic governor of the state of Michigan, where Detroit has become a hot zone in which hospitals are overwhelmed and already preparing contingency plans to triage patients in order to ration things like ventilators. In several appearances addressing the crisis in her state, Whitmer has been critical of the federal response—or lack thereof—to the pandemic. The president* told Hannity:
‘”She is a new governor, and it’s not been pleasant … “We’ve had a big problem with the young — a woman governor. You know who I’m talking about — from Michigan. We don’t like to see the complaints…She doesn’t get it done, and we send her a lot. Now, she wants a declaration of emergency, and, you know, we’ll have to make a decision on that. But Michigan is a very important state. I love the people of Michigan.”’
Whitmer, meanwhile, in an interview with WWJ Newsradio in Detroit, explained what being on the business end of the pandemic shakedown was like.
‘”What I’ve gotten back is that vendors with whom we’ve procured contracts — They’re being told not to send stuff to Michigan,” Whitmer said live on air. “It’s really concerning, I reached out to the White House last night and asked for a phone call with the president, ironically at the time this stuff was going on.”’
Also on Hannity, the president* expressed doubts that the ventilator shortage in New York is as grave as Governor Andrew Cuomo says it is.
‘”New York is a bigger deal, but it’s going to go, also. But I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they are going to be. I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators.”’
On Wednesday, of course, talking to another Fox News meat puppet, Trump made the general outlines of the shakedown quite plain. From Business Insider:
‘”It’s a two-way street,” Trump said of his discussions with governors about providing their states with federal aid. “They have to treat us well also. They can’t say, ‘Oh gee, we should get this, we should get that.’ We’re doing a great job.” Trump used New York an example of how the federal government had put forward resources to support states. “We’re literally building hospitals and medical centers,” he said. “And then I hear that there’s a problem with ventilators — well, we sent them ventilators, and they could have had 15 or 16,000, all they had to do was order them two years ago. But they decided not to do it. They can’t blame us for that.” ‘
The question facing us all now as citizens is whether or not the response of our country to a worldwide pandemic is being driven by the basic strategy of the Piranha Brothers. That is, whether or not the president* is withholding vital medical aid during a national health crisis for the purpose of muzzling criticism of his obvious incompetence, and for the auxiliary purpose of gaining political advantage in November’s election. If the answer to either of those questions is “yes,” then we have an unreconstructed monster running the country and there’s no telling what he might do next.”
His consistency is distressing. He is a complete AH, and the GOP can’t let him go because his base is the average GOP voter.
Michigan took a huge hit on positive cases today and jumped ~1000 positive cases. I live in Livingston County (42 cases and two deaths) which is much lower than the other counties which are more heavily populated.
I tried to comment on the typo the software produced – martial.
As in martial law.
Must not have hit the submit button, or something.
Polis – we derive the term “police power” as a way to talk about such powers, but this is an English adoption of the French derived from Greek (as I know it). It is often confused with cop-matters if you use the word police, it is better to use the word polis in legal and political science discussions as it has a much broader meaning.
Thank you for taking the time. I am not used to having intelligent people around me. Usually, I end up giving an explanation.
Run, thanks, a lot.
On the matter at hand, Trump now asserts an authority to quarantine any place in the US. He is likely drawing on changes made to Title 42 of the US Code stated to be made in furtherance of the Interstate Commerce clause found in the legislative Article of the Constitution.
From Cornell, here is the specific text from Section 264:
(a) Promulgation and enforcement by Surgeon General
The Surgeon General, with the approval of the Secretary, is authorized to make and enforce such regulations as in his judgment are necessary to prevent the introduction, transmission, or spread of communicable diseases from foreign countries into the States or possessions, or from one State or possession into any other State or possession. For purposes of carrying out and enforcing such regulations, the Surgeon General may provide for such inspection, fumigation, disinfection, sanitation, pest extermination, destruction of animals or articles found to be so infected or contaminated as to be sources of dangerous infection to human beings, and other measures, as in his judgment may be necessary.
(b) Apprehension, detention, or conditional release of individuals
Regulations prescribed under this section shall not provide for the apprehension, detention, or conditional release of individuals except for the purpose of preventing the introduction, transmission, or spread of such communicable diseases as may be specified from time to time in Executive orders of the President upon the recommendation of the Secretary, in consultation with the Surgeon General,.
(c) Application of regulations to persons entering from foreign countries
Except as provided in subsection (d), regulations prescribed under this section, insofar as they provide for the apprehension, detention, examination, or conditional release of individuals, shall be applicable only to individuals coming into a State or possession from a foreign country or a possession.
(d) Apprehension and examination of persons reasonably believed to be infected
(1) Regulations prescribed under this section may provide for the apprehension and examination of any individual reasonably believed to be infected with a communicable disease in a qualifying stage and (A) to be moving or about to move from a State to another State; or (B) to be a probable source of infection to individuals who, while infected with such disease in a qualifying stage, will be moving from a State to another State. Such regulations may provide that if upon examination any such individual is found to be infected, he may be detained for such time and in such manner as may be reasonably necessary. For purposes of this subsection, the term “State” includes, in addition to the several States, only the District of Columbia.
(2) For purposes of this subsection, the term “qualifying stage”, with respect to a communicable disease, means that such disease—
(A) is in a communicable stage; or
(B) is in a precommunicable stage, if the disease would be likely to cause a public health emergency if transmitted to other individuals.
Nothing in this section or section 266 of this title, or the regulations promulgated under such sections, may be construed as superseding any provision under State law (including regulations and including provisions established by political subdivisions of States), except to the extent that such a provision conflicts with an exercise of Federal authority under this section or section 266 of this title.
(July 1, 1944, ch. 373, title III, § 361, 58 Stat. 703; 1953 Reorg. Plan No. 1, §§ 5, 8, eff. Apr. 11, 1953, 18 F.R. 2053, 67 Stat. 631; Pub. L. 86–624, § 29(c), July 12, 1960, 74 Stat. 419; Pub. L. 94–317, title III, § 301(b)(1), June 23, 1976, 90 Stat. 707; Pub. L. 107–188, title I, § 142(a)(1), (2), (b)(1), (c), June 12, 2002, 116 Stat. 626, 627.)
Note that this text delegates to the President the power to issue an executive order to effect any quarantine, allowing the apprehension and detention of individuals who may be going from State to State.
I do not believe that the national government has any such power, and the Commerce Clause can not make it so (especially since no one is trying to sell or trade the disease), but basically because the Constitution does not give the Congress a lawful basis for creating much less delegating to the President polis powers as if he was a State.
Section 264 could be written properly to accomplish much if the same.
1. It should direct the President on a finding of a pandemic that requires a public health quarantine a) to make written request to the State legislatures and Governors affected asking that they effect a quarantine under their laws, and b) directing and authorizing the federal executive branch to support such quarantine in any fashion short of using the military or military like forces of the national government and as long as the States have in effect a Compact, by emergency or by existing law, calling for such cooperation between the affected States and with the national government, who is required to support this Compact during the period of the public health emergency as determined by the several States.
2. The Section should grant a blanket Compact Clause permission (Section 10 of the legislative Article) to all States and any States identified by the President under a) so the States may lawfully cooperate in any fashion deemed necessary by the public health emergency including granting the permission for one State to apprehend and detain individuals arriving from another State, according to their laws, in agreement with any other affected State under the Compact.
The President should not be able to use this public health exigency to exert autocratic political power or to act as if the President is a State itself. The President should ask for help and cooperate when a quarantine is seen to be necessary (not arbitrary or capricious findings!) but a State cannot be directed to do so or force used to compel this.
I hope you see the difference.
It boggles the mind to think that federal marshals might be arrayed against State and local police and the State’s national guard should the Marshals try to effect a quarantine and attempt to apprehend and detain individuals.
That is nuts, a civil war started by an autocrat.
Having worked with the Marshals in national emergency planning and policy development I would presume that they would NOT try to do that.
Since they have huge relationships with State and local jurisdictions, I would expect instead that they would ASK them to effect a quarantine.
The only thing Trump is doing is raw political power arrogation, it saddens me to see this fascism arise here in the US.
I think 1 is pretty clear specifying the Pres must work through the states and 2 states a state can enforce quarantine of people from other states. I believe in 1963, the Alabama state Militia did not cooperate with the federal government leading to the use of federal troops. The key word in the second sentence is “believe” in other words I am not sure.
Civil rights statutes were to be executed by the President, these enactments are specifically derived from the civil war Amendments to the. Constitution.
Note here too, that the Constitution provided the power to the legislative article, not to Article II.
If Hitler’s rise tells us a thing, it should tell us we have the most to fear from the Executive. And it’s arrogations need to scrutinized all the time, and the law protect us.
Did you ever (I am sure you did) read on the Colfax massacre in Grant Parish Louisiana and the resulting Waite SCOTUS decision. United States v. Cruikshank (1876) that protections of the Fourteenth Amendment did not apply to the actions of individuals, but only to the actions of state governments.
You mentioned Civil War . . . .
the Constitution provided the power to the legislative article, not to Article II. Interesting, so the Pres is free to do as he will.
The President is not free to do as he wishes. There is no public law unless Congress presents it to the President. This law then frames the ambit of the executive branch, and a well drawn act addresses administrative law matters that proscribe and circumscribe.
But it is the nature of the executive to act in faithful care to execute the public’s law, and in this regard they may act in ways that are unlawful, and the Courts must stuff them back under the law.
Again, we must fear the executive branch much more than the other departments.
What is faithful to the public’s law is not the President’s whims or corrupt purposes. The executive is able to take actions, it CAN act, and sometimes a case or controversy is needed to be pursued to find judgements that stop lawless actions, though this of course can take years of judicial process. Which is why we have much to fear.