Archives for category: Accountability

Gene V. Glass is one of the nation’s most eminent researchers and statisticians of education. He is a professor emeritus at Arizona State University.

He writes:

Education Policy Analysis Archives is an open access (free to read) peer-reviewed journal now in its 28th year of continuous publication.

EPAA just published an article by David S. Knight (Univ. Washington) and Laurence A. Toenjes (Univ Houston) entitled “Do Charter Schools Receive Their Fair Share of Funding? School Finance Equity for Charter and Traditional Public Schools.”

The charter school industry constantly complains that states underfund them. They lobby legislatures asking for funding equal to the per pupil expenditure of the traditional public schools. No matter that they offer fewer services than their public school counterparts, or that they rake off far higher funds for administration than public schools. (I make no apologies for ignoring the legality that charter schools are also public schools, because so many of them attempt to operate like private schools by discouraging applications for some types of student and by projecting the image that they are private schools.)

Knight and Toenjes’s conclusion will not be welcomed by the charter industry: “Using detailed school finance data from Texas as a case study, we find that after accounting for differences in accounting structures and cost factors, charter schools receive significantly more state and local funding compared to traditional public schools with similar structural characteristics and student demographics. … Policy simulations demonstrate that on average, each student who transfers to a charter school increases the cost to the state by $1,500.”

The complete article can be downloaded at https://epaa.asu.edu/ojs/article/view/4438

Gene V Glass
http://gvglass.info

The Trump administration appears poised to take advantage of the national crisis torelease controversial changes, like announcing yesterday that it was dropping the federal fuel economy standards that were intended to reduce air pollution.

Now, Politico tells us that the Department of Education is likely to revise Title IX regulations. Betsy DeVos long ago made clear that she sympathized with the young men who had been accused of rape or sexual harassment, not the young women who accused them. So expect revisions to make it harder for young women to step forward to complain and have their complaints investigated.

Politico writes:

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION FORGES AHEAD ON TITLE IX OVERHAUL: The completion of OMB’s review on Friday officially clears the way for DeVos to issue the new rule, which is expected to shake up how sexual assault and harassment charges are handled at every college campus and K-12 school.

— However, an Education Department spokesperson said the agency does not have an anticipated publication date yet.

— OMB meetings with groups on the rule are also still scheduled through April 16, according to the website.

— Even without a publication date, hundreds of education and victims advocacy groups, state attorneys general and some Senate Democrats are calling on the Education Department to put off the final rule until the coronavirus national emergency ends. Most groups asked to suspend nonessential rulemaking, saying that school resources are already spread thin trying to figure out how to move instruction online and support students.

— But some lawyers who represent students accused of misconduct say the Trump administration should go ahead and issue the rule, arguing that college Title IX coordinators may have time on their hands with campuses empty.

After several weeks of denying that the coronavirus was a problem or a threat, Trump admitted yesterday that the virus would probably kill between 100,000-240,000 people. That’s supposedly the “best case” scenario. If government fails to act effectively to test people and provide supplies for healthcare professionals, the death toll could be as high as 2 million people.

Here is timeline of Trump’s remarks about the coronavirus, compiled by teacher Glen Brown. Brown describes Trump’s behavior as “dangerous ignorance.” Trump has openly displayed his contempt for facts, science, expertise. His “gut” is the source of his wisdom, in addition to his genetic relationship to an uncle who taught at MIT and whose brains Trump absorbed by osmosis. Brown is a teacher, a poet, and a musician. Compare his timeline to the one created by the Washington Post.I think Brown’s context offers a fuller portrait of Trump’s dangerous ignorance.

Here is a timeline of Trump’s remarks about the coronavirus, compiled by the Washington Post (I don’t see the reference to the day when he said everyone should plan to go to church on Easter Sunday and pack the pews):


https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/politics/trump-coronavirus-statements/?utm_campaign=wp_to_your_health&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_tyh&wpmk=1

From ‘It’s going to disappear’ to ‘WE WILL WIN THIS WAR’

How the president’s response to the coronavirus has changed since January

As the coronavirus began to spread across the United States, President Trump repeatedly insisted that it was nothing to worry about. Two months later, the United States became the first country in the world with more than 100,000 cases, the economy has ground to a near standstill, and the virus has killed more than 1,000 people in New York state alone.

As cases increased and stocks tumbled, the president’s attitude toward the threat of covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has evolved from casual dismissal to reluctant acknowledgment to bellicose mobilization. Below, we trace the winding path of the president’s response to the virus, in his own words.

“It’s going to disappear.”

News conference, Feb. 28

Photo illustration of Trump with speech bubble saying, ‘It’s going to disappear.’
January through early March

Dismissing the threat

In the early days of the virus’s spread in the United States, Trump repeatedly emphasized that everything was “under control” and that the virus would just “disappear” in warmer months. Meanwhile, the coronavirus was steadily spreading in Singapore, where average temperatures are similar to summer in the United States.

“I think the 3.4 percent [fatality rate] is really a false number.”

Fox News interview, March 4

Photo illustration of Trump with speech bubble saying, ‘I think the 3.4 percent [fatality rate] is really a false number.’
Recognizing the spread, downplaying the risk

The World Health Organization warned early on that the global risk was high. Multiple states soon started reporting cases of community transmission, suggesting that containment was becoming more and more unlikely. Schools in Seattle began to close as one of the earliest serious outbreaks started to erupt in Washington state.

As February turned to March, the first deaths were announced and cases continued to climb. Trump began to acknowledge the virus’s spread in the United States but dismissed the potential danger to the public at large.

News conference, March 16

“We have an invisible enemy.”

Photo illustration of Trump with speech bubble saying, ‘We have an invisible enemy.’
Acknowledging the severity of the pandemic

The same week the WHO declared covid-19 a pandemic, the situation in the United States became more fraught. Stock markets continued to rapidly decline, and the U.S. death count began to double every few days. Businesses from the National Basketball Association to Disney canceled or postponed events. Cities worldwide asked their residents to quarantine at home and practice social distancing.

Amid this backdrop, Trump shifted his tone and tried to paint himself as having taken the virus seriously from the start. By March 14, he had declared a national emergency and backtracked on many of his earlier remarks.

Photo illustration of Trump with speech bubble saying, ‘Our country wasn’t built to be shut down.’
“Our country wasn’t built to be shut down.”

News conference, March 23

Pivoting to focus on the economy

Even with new guidelines from the White House and more federal efforts to combat the pandemic, both confirmed cases and deaths continued to rise exponentially.

However, after stock markets closed at their lowest point since Trump’s second week in office, he once again changed the focus of his efforts. As health experts continued to urge the public to limit face-to-face interactions, the president lamented how these restrictions prevented economic growth.

By late March, a record 3.3 million Americans would file for unemployment. The unemployment rate would rise to 5.5 percent, a level not seen since 2015.

“We’re going to have a great victory.”

News conference, March 30

Photo illustration of Trump with speech bubble saying, ‘We’re going to have a great victory.’
End of March, heading into April

Adopting the rhetoric of war

Trump’s statements indicating that he hoped to scale back coronavirus restrictions to revive the economy alarmed public health experts and many elected leaders. Experts warned that these restrictions would need to stay in place much longer to avoid more deaths. Medical workers also expressed alarm at the prospect of overwhelmed emergency rooms.

As cases continued to increase, Trump expressed doubt about New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s plea for 30,000 more ventilators to care for the influx of patients expected to flood hospitals. Yet by Sunday, Trump seemed to acknowledge the improbability of quickly reopening the economy, declaring that the Easter deadline was “just an aspiration” and announcing that he would extend federal guidance on social distancing through April.

As March came to a close, Trump began to embrace the image of himself as the leader of a country at war. He first referred to himself as a “wartime president” on March 19. In recent days, Trump has increasingly adopted wartime rhetoric to describe his attitude toward the pandemic.

Over the weekend, Anthony S. Fauci, one of the nation’s top infectious disease experts and a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, warned that between 100,000 and 200,000 Americans could die and that millions would be infected. The president said on Sunday that the country would be doing well if it “can hold” the number of deaths “down to 100,000.”

Deborah Birx, another member of the task force, offered her own grim assessment: “No state, no metro area, will be spared.”

A valuable website called “Unkoch My Campus” is offering a webinar where you can learn how to identify the tentacles of the Kochtopus.

Charles Koch and his late brother David
have subsidized anti-government, anti-public school policies and think tanks for decades. They underwrote the voucher campaign in Arizona and other states. They work closely with the DeVos family foundations to promote their views. The Koch’s have established centers to advocate libertarian ideas on more than 300 campuses. In the midst of the coronavirus crisis, we see how necessary it is to have a functioning federal government. At times of crisis, we understand that we need an effective public sector. The Koch movement has worked hard to reduce the ability of governments to protect their citizens.

This is a message from “Unkoch My Campus.”

We’re building a movement against the most intricate infrastructure of political influence in the country.

The bad news? This means having to track and expose hundreds of Koch-funded university programs, think-tanks, advocacy organizations, legislators, and judges working at the local, state, and federal levels. Yikes!

The good news? We can learn skills to make this work a little easier, and there are incredible researchers doing a lot of this work for us already!

To learn these skills, join our upcoming “Researching the Koch Network 101” webinar next Tuesday at 2pm ET!

Next week we’re bringing in David Armiak, Research Director at the Center for Media and Democracy, to teach us how to better incorporate opposition research into our campus and community-based campaigns. On this webinar, participants will:

Become more familiar with the universities, state-based think-tanks, advocacy organizations, and legislators involved in moving Koch’s agenda forward;

Learn about the research and resources that already exists to inform and deepen your local campaigns;

Receive an overview of basic opposition research skills experts use to conduct investigations and connect the dots;

Identify ways to leverage research produced by UnKoch’s partners to inform your grassroots base and escalate your local campaigns!

This webinar is designed with campus AND community advocates in mind. Whether you’re trying to kick Koch off of your campus or wanting to deepen your local or state-based advocacy by targeting Koch, this webinar is for you. Register to join us next Tuesday at 2pm ET!

In solidarity,

Samantha Parsons

Rob Reich and Mohit Mookim write in “Wired” about the efforts by Bill Gates, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and Chinese billionaire Jack Ma to step in and do what the federal government has failed to do in responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

They warn:

Public health is a paradigmatic public good. We should never be dependent on the whims of wealthy donors—as philanthropy is increasingly dominated by the wealthy—for our collective health and well-being.

That would be a betrayal of democracy. Rather than democratic processes determining our collective needs and how to address them, the wealthy would decide for us. We wanted rule by the many; we may get rule by the rich.

The coronavirus pandemic presents us with an immediate need for a response and it reminds us of the importance to invest so that we avoid preventable disasters in the future. At the moment, it’s all hands on deck for the emergency. But this is not what big philanthropy is built for. Or what it can sustain. The richest country in the world must step up to fund public health rather than relying on the richest people in the world to do it piecemeal.

Rob Reich is Professor of Political Science at Stanford University and author of Just Giving: Why Philanthropy is Failing Democracy and How It Can Do Better. He is the faculty codirector of The Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, which has received grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Mohit Mookim is a researcher at the Center for Ethics in Society at Stanford University.

Curiously, the co-author Rob Reich Of the article leads an organization funded by the Gates Foundation. Will Bill Gates listen to him?

I wrote a post yesterday and planned to post it at this hour. It was a brief recapitulation of an opinion piece that Kevin Huffman wrote yesterday in the Washington Post, in which he boldly stated that the current reliance on distance learning would hurt students and set back their learning.

Kevin Huffman is one of the leaders of the corporate reform movement. He worked for Teach for America, was married to Michelle Rhee, served as Commissioner of Education in Tennessee, where he pushed charters and vouchers and standardized testing. But when he tried to lose the state’s lowest performing school, the Tennessee Virtual Academy, he ran into a blank wall. It couldn’t be done. The TVA had friends in the legislature and it was impossible to close it down.

So in this article, he warned that the necessary emphasis on distance learning would not end well. In the post I planned to publish (but didn’t), I noted that he plugged the “no-excuses” Achievement First charter chain and Jeb Bush’s accountability-obsessed Chiefs for Change. I was not planning to mention that the “expert” he quotes is Hoover economist Erik Hanushek, who has a devout belief in testing and VAM and has predicted that increasing test scores would add trillions to the nation’s GNP. He has promoted the theory that teachers who can’t get their students’ scores up should be fired. Clean the ranks every year and—voila!—test scores will rise.

But unlike gullible me, Jan Resseger understood that Huffman’s article was a coded propaganda piece for the corporate reformers’ favorite organizations and remedies. Not only did he plug Achievement First and Chiefs for Change, he also cited the billionaire-funded City Fund, where he works. He did not note that it was created to subvert local school board elections by pumping money into the campaigns of charter-friendly candidates.

Resseger writes:

Kevin Huffman begins his recent Washington Post column with a warning about problems he expects to result from the widespread, coronavirus-driven school closures: “As the coronavirus pandemic closes schools, in some cases until September, American children this month met their new English, math, science and homeroom teachers: their iPads and their parents. Classes are going online, if they exist at all. The United States is embarking on a massive, months-long virtual-pedagogy experiment, and it is not likely to end well.”

This is pretty harsh. While in many places teachers are going to enormous lengths to create interesting projects to challenge children and keep them engaged, virtual schooling is a challenge. Online efforts school districts are undertaking to meet children’s needs during this long break are likely to be uneven. Huffman describes Stanford University research on the problems with virtual schooling, problems that are being exacerbated today by inequitable access to technology.

But what Kevin Huffman neglects to tell readers is that his purpose is not entirely to analyze his subject—the ongoing shutdown of schools. At the same time as he discusses the widespread school closure, he also manages to share the agenda of his current employer, The City Fund, a relatively new national group that finances the election campaigns of of charter school advocates running for seats on local school boards, supports the rapid expansion of charter schools, and promotes portfolio school reform. And when the Washington Post tells readers that Huffman, “a former education commissioner of Tennessee, is a partner at the City Fund, a national education nonprofit,” the Post neglects to explain The City Fund’s agenda.

Worse, Huffman proposes that schools should administer standardized tests to students when they return to school in September! Good grief, the results are not available for months. Of what value are such tests? I suppose we can now expect the testing corporations to begin losing for tests on the first day of school.

Resseger read the subtext: students, teachers, and schools can’t possibly survive without standardized testing. Be grateful for the charter chains who offer to help struggling school districts, which do not have the charters’ freedom to push out the kids they don’t want and do not have billionaire money to keep them afloat.

I read Huffman’s article and appreciated that he was wary of distance learning and unprepared parents struggling to teach their children.

Jan Resseger read it and exposed the hidden agenda: praising the billionaire agenda of charters and high-stakes testing. She correctly notes that this agenda failed when Huffman was Commissioner of Education in Tennessee. Some people learn from failure. Some don’t.

The global coronavirus pandemic reminds us of the importance and value of strong, effective public institutions. We are all in this together. “Everyone for himself” is a recipe for disaster. None of us can solve the problems on our own. The only way to address the disease is by collective action and public leadership.

The widespread closure of schools has made parents and communities aware of the crucial importance of these institutions.

Donald Cohen of the nonpartisan “In the Public Interest” asks why school districts were reluctant to close the schools.

He answers:

It’s simple. Public schools are public goods. They provide basic educational, social, emotional, and even physical needs to not only students and families but also entire communities. Closing them has effects that ripple out beyond school doors. As Erica Green wrote in the New York Times, mass school closings could “upend entire cities.”

Just look at the numbers:

The nation’s public school system serves more than 50 million students, many of whom have parents who work and need childcare during the day.

The federal National School Lunch Program serves food to over 30 million kids annually. Many families rely on school to feed their children meals throughout the school year.

There are more than 3.1 million public school teachers, many of whom are already struggling to get by. Teachers, paraprofessionals, front office workers, bus drivers, janitors, and other school staff rely on public school jobs to make ends meet.

But perhaps most importantly, public schools provide kids with the opportunity to learn alongside their peers. Schools are where the community comes together to learn and grow regardless of skin color, income level, sexual orientation, or any other difference.

Only public institutions—not private markets—can make sure that these basic needs are available to everyone.

The next few days, weeks, and months are uncertain, but one thing’s for sure: we’ll be learning how much public schools really matter to all of us. Some—teachers, administrators, and school staff—already know how important they are.

Thomas Ultican has analyzed the billionaire funders behind the pro-Disruption, anti-democracy website “Education Post.”

The major funders are the usual members of the Billionaire Boys and Girls Club: Bloomberg, Waltons, Chan Zuckerberg, and Mrs. Jobs.

Please open and read his post.

If you thought the Disrupters might have softened their tone during the pandemic, like, as a show of decency, you will be disappointed. They are still attacking, vilifying, and mocking anyone daring to defend public education, which is a cornerstone of our democracy. It must really upset them that after all these years and billions spent on privatization, only 6% of American students enroll in charter schools.

For some reason, I am one of their prime targets. I suppose I should take it as a compliment.

I will never answer in kind.

They are swimming in cash, but what they cannot buy is civility, kindness, compassion, or dignity.

This evening the New York Times published a story about a Trump’s repeated lies, boasts, and ignorance about the pandemic. The story did not include a Trump’s assertion yesterday on the Sean Hannity show that governors were inflating their need for ventilators, followed by orders to GM and Ford to start producing ventilators. One day he proclaims there is no crisis. The next day he responds to the crisis. Confusion? Distraction? Ignorance?

Linda Qiu writes:

Hours after the United States became the nation with the largest number of reported coronavirus cases on Thursday, President Trump appeared on Fox News and expressed doubt about shortages of medical supplies, boasted about the country’s testing capacity, and criticized his predecessor’s response to an earlier outbreak of a different disease.

“I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators,” he said, alluding to a request by Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York. . The president made the statement in spite of government reports predicting shortages in a severe pandemic — and he reversed course on Friday morning, calling for urgent steps to produce more ventilators.

Speaking on Fox on Thursday, Mr. Trump suggested wrongly that because of his early travel restrictions on China, “a lot of the people decided to go to Italy instead” — though Italy had issued a more wide-ranging ban on travel from China and done so earlier than the United States. And at a White House briefing on Friday, he wrongly said he was the “first one” to impose restrictions on China. North Korea, for one, imposed restrictions 10 days before the United States.

He misleadingly claimed again on Friday that “we’ve tested now more than anybody.” In terms of raw numbers, the United States has tested more people for the coronavirus than Italy and South Korea but still lags behind in tests per capita.

And he continued to falsely claim that the Obama administration “acted very, very late” during the H1N1 epidemic in 2009 and 2010.

These falsehoods, like dozens of others from the president since January, demonstrate some core tenets of how Mr. Trump has tried to spin his response to the coronavirus epidemic to his advantage. Here’s an overview.

Playing down the severity of the pandemic

When the first case of the virus was reported in the United States in January, Mr. Trump dismissed it as “one person coming in from China.” He said the situation was “under control” and “it’s going to be just fine” — despite a top official from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention telling the public to “expect more cases.”

No matter how much the count of cases has grown, Mr. Trump has characterized it as low.

“We have very little problem in this country” with five cases, he said in late January.

More live coverage: Markets U.S. New York
He maintained the same dismissive tone on March 5, as the number of cases had grown by a factor of 25. “Only 129 cases,” he wrote on Twitter.

A day later, he falsely claimed that this was “lower than just about” any other country. (A number of developed countries like Australia, Britain and Canada as well as populous India had fewer reported cases at that point.)

By March 12, when the tally had again increased tenfold to over 1,200, the president argued that too was “very few cases” compared to other countries.

He has also misleadingly suggested numerous times that the coronavirus is no worse than the flu, saying on Friday, “You call it germ, you can call it a flu. You can call it a virus. You can call it many different names. I’m not sure anybody knows what it is.”

The mortality rate for coronavirus, however, is 10 times that of the flu and no vaccine or cure exists yet for the coronavirus.

In conflating the flu and the coronavirus, Mr. Trump repeatedly emphasized the annual number of deaths from the flu, and occasionally inflated his estimates. When he first made the comparison in February, he talked of flu deaths from “25,000 to 69,000.” In March, he cited a figure “as high as 100,000” in 1990.

The actual figure for the 1990 flu season was 33,000, and in the past decade, the flu has killed an estimated 12,000 to 61,000 thousand people each flu season in the United States. That’s so far higher than the death count for the virus in the United States, but below projections from the Centers for Disease and Prevention, which estimated that deaths from Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, could range from 200,000 to 1.7 million. As of Friday evening, more than 1,200 deaths in the United States have been linked to the coronavirus.

On the flip side, Mr. Trump inflated the mortality and infection rates of other deadly diseases as if to emphasize that the coronavirus pales in comparison. “The level of death with Ebola,” according to Mr. Trump, “was a virtual 100 percent.” (The average fatality rate is around 50 percent.) During the 1918 flu pandemic, “you had a 50/50 chance or very close of dying,” he said on Tuesday. (Estimates for the fatality rate for the 1918 flu are far below that.)

This week, as cities and states began locking down, stock markets tumbled and jobless claims hit record levels, Mr. Trump again played down the impact of the pandemic and said, with no evidence and contrary to available research, that a recession would be deadlier than the coronavirus.

Overstating potential treatments and policies

The president has also dispensed a steady stream of optimism when discussing countermeasures against the virus.

From later February to early March, Mr. Trump repeatedly promised that a vaccine would be available “relatively soon” despite being told by public health officials and pharmaceutical executives that the process would take 12 to 18 months. Later, he promoted treatments that were still unproven against the virus, and suggested that they were “approved” and available though they were not.

Outside of medical interventions, Mr. Trump has exaggerated his own policies and the contributions of the private sector in fighting the outbreak. For example, he imprecisely described a website developed by a company affiliated with Google, wrongly said that insurers were covering the cost of treatment for Covid-19 when they only agreed to waive co-payments for testing, and prematurely declared that automakers were making ventilators “right now.”

Often, he has touted his complete “shut down” or “closing” of the United States to visitors from affected countries (in some cases leading to confusion and chaos). But the restrictions he has imposed on travel from China, Iran and 26 countries in Europe do not amount to a ban or closure of the borders. Those restrictions do not apply to American citizens, permanent residents, their immediate families, or flight crews.

Not only were these restrictions total and absolute in Mr. Trump’s telling, they were also imposed on China “against the advice of a lot of professionals, and we turned out to be right.” His health and human services secretary, however, has previously said that the restrictions were imposed on the recommendations of career health officials. The Times has also reported that Mr. Trump was skeptical before deciding to back the restrictions at the urging of some aides.

Blaming others

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent test kits to states in February, some of which were flawed and produced inconclusive readings. Problems continued to grow as scientists and state officials warned about restrictions on who could be tested and the availability of tests overall. Facing criticism over testing and medical supplies, Mr. Trump instead shifted responsibility to a variety of others.

It was the Obama administration that “made a decision on testing that turned out to be very detrimental to what we’re doing,” he said on March 4. This was a misleading reference to draft guidance issued in 2014 on regulating laboratory-developed tests, one that was never finalized or enforceable. A law enacted in 2004 created the process and requirements for receiving authorization to use unapproved testing products in health emergencies.

The test distributed by the World Health Organization was never offered to the United States and was “a bad test,” according to Mr. Trump. It’s true that the United States typically designs and manufactures its own diagnostics, but there is no evidence that the W.H.O. test was unreliable.

As for the shortage of ventilators cited by Mr. Cuomo, Mr. Trump has misleadingly said that the governor declined to address the issue in 2015 when he “had the chance to buy, in 2015, 16,000 ventilators at a very low price and he turned it down.”

A 2015 report establishing New York’s guidelines on ventilator allocation estimated that, in the event of a pandemic on the scale of the 1918 flu, the state would “likely have a shortfall of 15,783 ventilators during peak demand.” But the report did not actually recommend increasing the stockpile and noted that purchasing more was not a cure-all solution as there would not be enough trained health care workers to operate them.

Rewriting history

Since the severity of the pandemic became apparent, the president has defended his earlier claims through false statements and revisionism.

He has denied saying things he said. Pressed on Tuesday about his pronouncements in March that testing was “perfect,” Mr. Trump said he had been simply referring to the conversation he had in July with the president of Ukraine that ultimately led to the House impeaching him. In fact, he had said “the tests are all perfect” like the phone call.

He has compared his government’s response to the current coronavirus pandemic (“one of the best”) favorably to the Obama administration’s response to the H1N1 epidemic of 2009 to 2010 (“a full scale disaster”). In doing so, Mr. Trump has falsely claimed that former President Barack Obama did not declare the epidemic an emergency until thousands had died (a public health emergency was declared days before the first reported death in the United States) and falsely said the previous administration “didn’t do testing” (they did).

At times, Mr. Trump has marveled at the scale of the pandemic, arguing that “nobody would ever believe a thing like that’s possible” and that it “snuck up on us.”

There have been a number of warnings about both a generic worldwide pandemic and the coronavirus specifically. A 2019 government report said that “the United States and the world will remain vulnerable to the next flu pandemic or large scale outbreak of a contagious disease.” A simulation conducted last year by the Department of Health and Human Services modeled an outbreak of a rapidly spreading virus. And top government officials began sounding the alarms about the coronavirus in early January.

Despite his history of false and misleading remarks, Mr. Trump has also asserted, “I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”

In this editorial, Harold Meyerson plumbs the depths of meanness in the Senate’s majority party. It would be better for the unemployed if more of them were quarantined and unable to vote:

ON TAP Today from the American Prospect
MARCH 26, 2020

Meyerson on TAP

The Senate’s OTHER Vote Last Night—Along Party Lines. As every news-following American knows, the Senate voted unanimously last night to pass a $2.2 trillion stimulus package for our rapidly shrinking economy. But hardly any news-following American knows about the vote that immediately preceded that—on the amendment that four Republican senators introduced to greatly reduce unemployment insurance payments.

The senators’ objection to the agreed-upon UI fix in the stimulus bill was itself widely reported. Because unemployment insurance levels in many states with right-wing governments are so low, Democrats insisted upon the federal government topping off UI payments with an additional $600 a week to the unemployed for a four-month period. Four conservative senators objected on the grounds that that might create incomes for the unemployed that exceeded their pay when on the job. Not surprisingly, two of those senators were South Carolinians Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott. South Carolina, it should be noted, is one of the six states that have never passed a minimum-wage law, and one of the two states (the other is North Carolina) that always place first or second in having the lowest rate of unionized workers—invariably, below 3 percent. In short, it’s no great achievement to make more money off the job than on the job in the senators’ home state, precisely because South Carolina’s historic denigration of workers creates so many poverty-wage jobs. Graham and Scott were like the kids who kill their parents and plead for mercy because they’re orphans.

But here’s the kicker: Surely, the objections of these two troglodytes and their two co-sponsors (Florida’s Rick Scott and Nebraska’s Ben Sasse) were just idiosyncratic social meanness, right?

Wrong. The vote on their amendment was 48-48; the only Republican to join the chamber’s 47 Democrats in voting no was Maine’s Susan Collins. (Fortunately, the Democrats, as part of the agreement on the stimulus bill, had insisted that the amendment require 60 votes to pass.)

If there’s a clearer expression of Republicans’ concern for their fellow Americans who lose their jobs in the pandemic crisis, I sure don’t know it. ~ HAROLD MEYERSON