Audio

Podcast | Race to the White House: Continuing corona crisis and the #DropOutJoe movement

V Nivedita | Updated on May 01, 2020 Published on May 01, 2020

 

Background

* Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell proposes that States that need money to fight Covid-19 can file for bankrupty.

* Half of the states in the US are easing lockdown rules

* Joe Biden is under pressure to address assault allegation

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Hi I am Nivedita Varadarajan and welcome to a new episode of the Race to the White House. This week, I'll focus on two topics: the response to the corona crisis and the #dropoutjoe movement on social media, especially Twitter.

The US government and the two parties are not handling the coronavirus pandemic well.

The ruling party, the Republicans party, reacted to the coronavirus outbreak rather uncharacteristically. Along with the Democrats, they introduced a legislation that would increase unemployment benefits, help small businesses keep employees and payroll and provide $1,200 dollars to individuals who meet certain criteria. That’s very prograssive for the Republicans right? But things are not always as they seem. The Act also gave huge relief to big corporates, especially to the aviation, financial sector and other industries of “national importance”, but they did not provide enough checks and balances in the system. They also opposed increased funding to election related activities.

Now, they are falling back to old habits. For example, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said that he would be okay if States go bankrupt. This comes at a time when the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates State revenues can decrease by more than 25 percent due to the pandemic, the Atlantic reports. The states, now, face demands to increase their health-care budgets, unemployment systems, and social-welfare benefits to tide over the aftermath of the coronavirus. The report by the Atlantic says that by the summer of 2022, the state budget gap could total half a trillion dollars.

In an interview to Fox News, he said, “We’re not interested in rescuing them from bad decisions they've made in the past, we’re not going to let them take advantage of this pandemic to solve a lot of problems that they created themselves [with] bad decisions in the past.” This drew a lot of sharp criticism from all quarters, the strongest coming from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo blasted the idea as “dumb,” “irresponsible,” and “petty”.

McConnell, who headed the effort to provide billions of dollars to corporates, is okay with the idea of states going bankrupt. This has
many consequences, including reducing the state’s pension schemes. After the backlash and various news outlets reporting that this could hurt his re-election chances, he backed down, and is now entertaining the idea of providing more finances to the states in a third relief package.

Meanwhile, Republicans have been protesting all over the US, demanding that states ease restrictions on trade and movement. This is because many people related to the White House and many conservative voices have been saying that though the trade off is too big.

Trump has not been making his case for reelection any easier. He has been criticized for going off the rails recently, from talking about injecting bleach and cleaning substances to changing his stand on the number of tests needed. On Monday, he released a new plan to test Armericans. Reuters reports that senior administration officials said the federal government is sending swabs and equipment to all 50 states to cover their entire testing objectives for the months of May and June. This will allow the screening of at least 2 per cent of the population, the officials
said.

The Democrats, meanwhile, have been relegated to playing the second fiddle as they are not able to secure funding to causes that are dear to them and they are not able to provide adequate checks and balance for the funds that have been given in the bailout.

It is also becoming very obvious that Joe Biden's run will not be smooth. In a previous episode, I told you some of the big hurdles that Biden faces ahead in his campaign. One of them is a rape allegation and this is fast becoming an existential crisis for the campaign. The accuser, Tara Reade, has said that Biden had assaulted her in 1993 when he was a senator.
 

I told you that the American media did not pay heed to this claim citing the lack of evidence. Well, now that is slowly changing. Three people have now backed her account of being assaulted, although none say they were witnesses to it. The Intercept's Ryan Grim has reported
that her brother, former neighbour and former colleague have come forward and revealed that they heard her describe the assault shortly after it happened. In his report, Grim also writes that she said that her mom called up CNN's "Larry King Live" show and said that her daughter was sexually assaulted and later fired from her job. Grim could not find the archival footage, but it has since been found by others. The BBC reports that Reade also complained about the incident to the University of Delaware, which has said that it will not release any papers until two years after Biden leaves public life.

How are Biden's critics handling this sensitive issue? Progressives want Biden to quit and say that the Democrats will lose the moral high ground to question Trump. How can this election be about "going back to decency" if the nominee is accused of rape,they ask.

Others point out the hypocrisy in the coverage of the issue. They say that the mainstream media is not covering the issue well. They are quick to point out that when Brett Kavanaugh was accused of a sexual assault, the media said that victims should be believed no matter who
they accuse. Now, the media is not showing the same kind of enthusiasm as they did for the Kavanaugh matter. Biden, who has given nearly a dozen interviews since the allegation first came out, has not been asked this question. Not even once. His supporters downplay the whole issue.

Despite this controversy raging on Biden won more states, including Ohio, which held its primary entirely by post. Former secretary of state and the previous democratic party's nominee Hillary Clinton also endorsed him.

Published on May 01, 2020
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