WHAT’S GOING ON HERE? … ON FRIDAY, both Speaker NANCY PELOSI and Senate Minority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER released statements after talking to Treasury Secretary STEVEN MNUCHIN, seemingly optimistic about breaking the logjam over $251 billion in business lending by entering into a bipartisan spending negotiation that would, presumably, include Democratic spending priorities like sending more money to hospitals and to states. Republicans and the White House rejected this earlier this week.
BUT THIS MORNING, Senate Majority Leader MITCH MCCONNELL and House Minority Leader KEVIN MCCARTHY released a statement saying the exact opposite: “Republicans reject Democrats’ reckless threat to continue blocking job-saving funding unless we renegotiate unrelated programs which are not in similar peril. This will not be Congress’s last word on COVID-19, but this crucial program needs funding now. American workers cannot be used as political hostages. We will continue to seek a clean [Paycheck Protection Program] funding increase. We hope our Democratic colleagues familiarize themselves with the facts and the data before the program runs dry.” The full statement
SO, WILL THERE BE A NEGOTIATION, or not? Will the small-business funding ride alone, or will it ride with a wagon of other spending priorities. The small-business program runs out of money April 17, and the two sides seem to be saying completely different things: PELOSI and SCHUMER want a bigger bill, MCCONNELL wants a narrow one and the WHITE HOUSE — led by MNUCHIN — is caught in the middle, seeming to give different impressions to different sides.
THE WHITE HOUSE PRIVATELY maintains there will be no negotiations, and they are going to muscle through small business lending somehow in the next week. It’s not tenable, the administration has said, to allow this crucial account to run dry when small businesses across the country are suffering. Could Dems shift their demands, and fall back on a half measure? REPUBLICANS say they are going to hold firm. The account runs out at the end of next week.
HMM — “Small business loan effort might be less generous than advertised,” by Theo Meyer: “An emergency loan program meant to aid small businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic could be a lot less generous than previously advertised. The Economic Injury Disaster Loan program is supposed to provide small businesses running out of cash due to the pandemic ‘with working capital loans of up to $2 million,’ according to the Small Business Administration’s website.
“But small businesses might not be able to get anything close to $2 million. Those that apply ‘will likely be given maximum loans of $25,000-$35,000 (as opposed to the advertised $2 million cap for EIDLs),’ Tom Sullivan, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s vice president for small business policy, wrote in an internal email on Thursday evening, which was obtained by POLITICO.”
MICHAEL GRUNWALD: “5 Increasingly Hardball Versions of the Next Stimulus”
TO REOPEN THE ECONOMY, OR NOT … “Torn Over Reopening Economy, Trump Says He Faces ‘Biggest Decision I’ve Ever Had to Make’” by NYT’s Peter Baker, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Alan Rappeport: “As he grapples simultaneously with the most devastating public health and economic crises of a lifetime, President Trump finds himself pulled in opposite directions on what to do next. The bankers, corporate executives and industrialists plead with him to reopen the country as soon as possible, while the medical experts beg for more time to curb the coronavirus.
“The phone calls from his business friends compete against the television images of overwhelmed hospitals. The public health experts tell him what he is doing is working, so he should not let up yet. The economic advisers and others in his White House tell him what he has done has worked, so he should begin to figure out how to ease up. Tens of thousands more could die. Millions more could lose their jobs.
“‘I’m going to have to make a decision, and I only hope to God that it’s the right decision,’ Mr. Trump said on Friday during his daily news briefing on the fight against the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 18,000 Americans so far and put more than 16 million out of work. ‘But I would say without question it’s the biggest decision I’ve ever had to make.’” NYT
ABOUT THAT TRUMP “RE-OPENING” COUNCIL … JOSH GERSTEIN emailed us that it is all but certain to court complaints about transparency and conflicts of interest. White House officials did not respond to questions last night about whether the new group plans to comply with the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which requires government panels including outsiders to announce meetings in advance and meet publicly in most instances.
PAST TRUMP EFFORTS to enlist the private sector in policymaking — a Strategic and Policy Forum and a Manufacturing Jobs Initiative — were “reworked” by the White House lawyers in ways that appeared intended to dodge transparency requirements. One claim was that the groups were essentially bull sessions and were not developing any “consensus advice or recommendations.”
TRUMP DISBANDED both efforts in 2017 after many CEOs quit in protest over his rhetoric on the white-supremacist march in Charlottesville, but leaders from business and finance have chafed for years at the vetting and transparency requirements involved in joining White House advisory panels. Late Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, who headed up an Obama jobs council, called the process a “nightmare” and “very cumbersome.” “You have to meet in public. And that’s what takes all the fun out of it,” he told POLITICO in 2016.
DEEP DIVE — DAN DIAMOND: “Inside America’s Two-Decade Failure to Prepare for Coronavirus”: “The Trump administration has taken the brunt of the blame for America’s lack of preparedness for the Covid-19 pandemic, which has caught the world’s wealthiest nation embarrassingly off-guard and plunged it into an economic and health catastrophe. But the cycle of inattention has roots far deeper than that, according to interviews with top policymakers from three administrations covering 20 years.
“After each major health crisis of the last two decades, American health and political leaders have launched preparedness programs and issued blunt warnings to their successors — only to watch as those programs were defunded, staff was allowed to depart and Washington forgot the stark lessons it had just learned.
“That cycle then accelerated during the tumultuous Trump administration, said the health officials interviewed for this story, nearly all of whom cited Trump’s willingness to disregard evidence and stick with his gut as the coronavirus threat menaced the nation.”
Good Saturday morning.
THE NUMBERS — “Global deaths from virus soar past 100,000, but spread in U.S. may be slowing,” by WaPo’s William Wan, Hannah Knowles and David A. Fahrenthold: “The global death toll of the novel coronavirus surged past 100,000 on Friday, though leaders in the United States, facing the world’s largest outbreak of the virus, said they saw new signs that social distancing measures were slowing its spread.
“The American death toll is already daunting: more than 18,000 people, seemingly poised to pass Italy’s total and become the highest official toll in the world. And it is growing rapidly. More than 1,900 new U.S. deaths were announced Friday, the highest daily total so far. That number included a record-high 205 deaths in Michigan, where the coronavirus has been advancing even as it fades in the first American epicenters.
“Still, officials said there was encouraging news. In New York, which has been hit the hardest by the virus, the death toll has been high but steady this week, staying just below 800 per day. That trend, plus a decline in severe cases, has encouraged leaders there.” WaPo
— “L.A. County stay-at-home order could last into summer; more social distancing essential, officials say,” by LA Times’ Rong-Gong Lin II, Melanie Mason and Sean Greene
TRUMP’S NEW FRAMING — “Trump casts himself as pandemic patron, personalizing the government’s spread of cash and supplies,” by WaPo’s Bob Costa and Phil Rucker: “As Americans confront a pandemic and struggle to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, Trump has placed himself at the center as their patron. The president has sought to portray himself as singularly in charge — except for when things go wrong. In those instances, he has labored to blame others and avoid accountability.
“Day after day, in his self-constructed role of wartime president, the task Trump seems to relish most is spreading cash and supplies across a beleaguered and anxious nation.” WaPo
BUT, BUT, BUT — “Slow Start for Rapid Coronavirus Tests Frustrates States,” by WSJ’s Dan Frosch, Deanna Paul and Ian Lovett: “A rapid test for the new coronavirus that was touted by the White House as a game-changing development has proved vexing for state officials, who say the federal government has failed to provide enough necessary equipment. …
“After conducting a bulk purchase with Abbott, the federal government this month gave every state except Alaska 15 devices and 120 cartridges, regardless of its population or severity of its coronavirus outbreak. …
“The frustration over how the Abbott tests are being doled out underscores the Trump administration’s ongoing struggle to respond to national testing shortages. While more coronavirus tests have been made available in recent weeks, via private laboratories that now have FDA approval, results can take days. High-volume tests have been hampered by inaccurate results, delays and technical problems.” WSJ
AP: “1st results in on Gilead coronavirus drug; more study needed,” by Marilynn Marchione: “More than half of a group of severely ill coronavirus patients improved after receiving an experimental antiviral drug, although there’s no way to know the odds of that happening without the drug because there was no comparison group, doctors reported Friday.
“The results published by the New England Journal of Medicine are the first in COVID-19 patients for remdesivir. The Gilead Sciences drug has shown promise against other coronaviruses in the past and in lab tests against the one causing the current pandemic, which now has claimed more than 100,000 lives.” AP
CORONAVIRUS COLLATERAL DAMAGE? — “Trump officials, health experts worry coronavirus will set back opioid fight,” by Dan Goldberg and Brianna Ehley
BETSY WOODRUFF SWAN: “Ukrainian Giuliani ally hires ex-lawmaker to lobby Trump administration”: “A Ukrainian associate of Rudy Giuliani has hired a business partner of Erik Prince to lobby Washington on his behalf regarding “corruption,” according to public records and interviews. The move became public on the Justice Department’s lobbying registry the same day that Joe Biden became the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee.
“The business partner, former Ukrainian parliamentarian Andrii Artemenko, is registered to lobby using a different name. He’s also in the transportation and logistics business with Prince, and the two have been very busy because the coronavirus pandemic has snarled air travel around the world, Artemenko told POLITICO.
“The Giuliani associate who hired Artemenko is Andriy Derkach, a member of Ukraine’s Rada who drew attention in U.S. media during President Donald Trump’s impeachment saga, and who was once a member of the Ukrainian political party that Paul Manafort worked for.” POLITICO
THE BIDEN-CUOMO ALLIANCE — “Biden and Cuomo: Friends, Allies and Supporting Players No Longer,” by NYT’S Alex Burns: “Mr. Biden, 77, and Mr. Cuomo, 62, have emerged as unlikely twin pillars of their party in a national crisis, Mr. Biden as its presumptive presidential nominee and Mr. Cuomo as its most forceful spokesman in a public-health emergency.
“The political stakes for both men — and for their relationship — are almost unimaginably high, all the more so because of their overlapping and complementary vulnerabilities. Both are long-serving moderate stalwarts in a Democratic Party that has shifted leftward, and old-school practitioners of back-room politics in a culture that has sped up and moved online. Accentuating those challenges, Mr. Biden has struggled for years with a reputation for bombast and verbal indiscipline, while Mr. Cuomo has drawn complaints for an imperious and bullying personal style.” NYT
BERNIE’S DOWNFALL: “‘No one went for a knockout blow’: Inside Bernie’s campaign nosedive,” by Holly Otterbein
TRUMP’S SATURDAY: The president has nothing on his public schedule.
TINA NGUYEN: “Coronavirus-killing silver, fake tests, CDC impersonators: Feds rush to stamp out scams”: “Among all the coronavirus scams that Joan Donovan has been tracking in the last three months, one has stuck with her: an app promising to detect contact with an infected person, but that actually froze the device and demanded a bitcoin ransom.
“Donovan, the research director of Harvard Kennedy’s Shorenstein Center, where she tracks disinformation campaigns, has seen her fair share of malware-related scams during her career. Yet this app seemed particularly cruel, given the country’s current widespread isolation.
‘If you were to be a person whose lone source of connection in the world right now is through telephone,’ she said, to be locked out of that at a time when you can’t access support, and that you are feeling really alone, that could be potentially deadly.’
“‘The malicious app is just one of dozens, if not hundreds of scams that have popped up as quickly as the coronavirus itself. Hucksters are hawking bunk cures — toothpaste, silver, essential oils. Fraudsters are schilling counterfeit masks. And most importantly, those highly-coveted coronavirus tests are now available online — except they don’t work.” POLITICO
SALT LAKE TRIBUNE: “Utah Rep. John Curtis bought stocks boosted by coronavirus, disclosures indicate,” by Thomas Burr
TINSELTOWN — “With America at Home, the Streaming War Is Hollywood’s Ultimate Test,” by WSJ’s Joe Flint, Benjamin Mullin and Lillian Rizzo: “Many American industries have seen demand for their products collapse while the U.S. economy retracts and the deadly virus rages across the country. The streaming video business has the opposite problem: It faces diminishing supply for a product that is—at least for now—in very high demand.” WSJ
MEDIAWATCH — “For Fox News hosts, the hydroxychloroquine controversy is fuel for the culture war,” by WaPo’s Paul Fahri
CLICKER — “The nation’s cartoonists on the week in politics,” edited by Matt Wuerker — 18 funnies
GREAT WEEKEND READS, curated by Margy Slattery and the staff of POLITICO Magazine:
— “How New Jersey’s First Coronavirus Patient Survived,” by NYT Magazine’s Susan Dominus: “James Cai’s case was completely new to his doctors. When he grew severely ill, he tapped a network of Chinese and Chinese-American medical colleagues who helped save his life.” NYT Magazine
— “‘It Was Gone Overnight,’” by Slate’s Christina Cauterucci: “One restaurant’s struggle to weather the pandemic.” Slate
— “How Sports Radio Hosts Became America’s Grief Counselors,” by The Ringer’s Bryan Curtis: “Longtime broadcasters like Mike Francesa and Paul Finebaum have shifted their shows to reflect the coronavirus pandemic. And they’re making their audiences rethink how they see the world.” Ringer
— “Living in the Present With John Prine,” by Tom Piazza in Oxford American, from October 2018: “Not only had he endured in the face of all the looming mortality, he continued to stand up and make defiant beauty in spite of it all.” Oxford American … NYT’s obituary of Prine, who died this week from complications of the coronavirus
— “The Hate Store: Amazon’s Self-Publishing Arm Is a Haven for White Supremacists,” by Ava Kofman, Francis Tseng and Moira Weigel in ProPublica and The Atlantic: “The company gives extremists and neo-Nazis banned from other platforms unprecedented access to a mainstream audience—and even promotes their books.” ProPublica
— “America’s Other Epidemic,” by Beth Macy in The Atlantic’s May issue: “Nikki [King] has figured out a way to get treatment to people in remote, underfunded areas. The program she’s developed is still small and new, but its results are promising.” Atlantic
— “Land-Grab Universities,” by Robert Lee and Tristan Ahtone in High Country News: “Expropriated Indigenous land is the foundation of the land-grant university system.” High Country News
— “The Weirdly Enduring Appeal of Weird Al Yankovic,” by NYT Magazine’s Sam Anderson: “National economies collapse; species go extinct; political movements rise and fizzle. But—somehow, for some reason—Weird Al keeps rocking.” NYT Magazine
— “Baking Bread in Lyon,” by Bill Buford in The New Yorker, from his new book, “Dirt: Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training, Father, and Sleuth Looking for the Secret of French Cooking”: “For a newcomer to the city, a boulangerie apprenticeship reveals a way of life.” New Yorker … $28.95 on Amazon
Send tips to Eli Okun and Garrett Ross at [email protected].
IN MEMORIAM — “Darran Simon, Washington Post journalist, dies at 43,” by WaPo’s Adam Bernstein: “Mr. Simon was born in England and spent his childhood in the South American nation of Guyana and in New Jersey. In his professional life, he displayed restless curiosity as well as deep compassion for people who had endured natural catastrophe and man-made violence. …
“After two years as the Miami Herald’s minority affairs reporter, he moved to New Orleans in 2007 as an education reporter for the Times-Picayune, compelled to document the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. … A reserved and conscientious reporter, he went on to cover crime for the Philadelphia Inquirer, was a general assignment reporter for Newsday, and was a senior writer with CNN Digital in Atlanta focusing on national and international breaking news before starting March 2 on The Post’s Metro staff.” WaPo
WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Cole Leiter, comms director for the DCCC, and Lital Ehrlich, a school counselor at DC Prep in Anacostia, recently welcomed Esme Harel Leiter. Pic
BIRTHDAYS: Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) is 65 … Ethel Kennedy is 92 … Janet Montesi, FEMA deputy press secretary … Meghan McCann … Alex Phillips … Netflix’s Erika Masonhall … William P. Lauder is 6-0 … J.D. Harrison … former Rep. Mark Kennedy (R-Minn.), president of the University of Colorado, is 63 … David Wofford … Sydney Rubin … Castlen Kennedy … Cogent Strategies’ Missi Tessier … RIAA’s Michele Ballantyne … Marcia Hale (h/ts Jon Haber) … Sharon Haselhoff (h/ts Teresa Vilmain)… Laura Braden Quigley … Henry Gass is 3-0 … Hayley Richard … Chris Malagisi, executive director of outreach for Hillsdale College … Boris Seka … Nina Verghese … Aaron Bennett … Rae Robinson Trotman, SVP at SKDKnickerbocker … Marc Ross, VP of global comms at Strategic Elements and founder of Caracal Global … MSNBC’s Raelyn Johnson … NBC’s Amanda Golden is 27 … Alex Douglas …
… Ed Skyler, Citi’s head of public affairs … Nick O’Boyle, deputy COS for Rep. Ron Estes (R-Kan.), is 3-0 (h/t Estes press team) … Ellen Goodman is 79 … Mariel Saez … Tucker Bourne … Manuel Ortiz … Donna Borak … Kate Warren … Chris Gates … Hillary Alvaré … Benjamin Bryant … DAGA’s Jason Bargnes is 36 … Sebastian Silva … Joshua Lapidus is 3-0 … Jon Berrier, senior director of public affairs at Juul Labs, is 38 … Lauren Kane … Microsoft’s Paul Arden … Amazon’s Kevin O’Neill … Don Graves is 5-0 … Vinnie Nordmann … Mitch Carney … Holly Geffs … Jesse Dougherty … Linda Lipsen, CEO of the American Association of Justice (h/t Randy White) … Julie Tarallo … Sarah Beth Lowe … Nancy Yacoub … Jacob Peterson is 34 … Kim Aagaard … Julie Westfall is 4-0 … Jim Parenti … Adam Kramer … Elliott Suthers … Bob Fois is 58 … William Hamby … Gil Gross … Beth Osborne … Teresa Thomas-Boyd
SUNDAY SHOWS, by Matt Mackowiak, filing from Austin:
— NBC’s “Meet the Press”: FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn … WHO special envoy Dr. David Nabarro … Dr. Mark McClellan and Dr. Vin Gupta. Panel: Yamiche Alcindor, Lanhee Chen, Jon Meacham and Kristen Welker.
— CBS’ “Face the Nation”: Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) … Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot … Archbishop of New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan … Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Neel Kashkari … Scott Gottlieb … Dr. Christopher Murray.
— “Fox News Sunday”: Mark Cuban … D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser … Dr. Tom Inglesby. Panel: Ari Fleischer, Gillian Turner and Juan Williams.
— CNN’s “State of the Union”: Dr. Anthony Fauci … Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) … Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-Ark.) … Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.).
— ABC’s “This Week”: Guests to be announced.
— Gray TV’s “Full Court Press with Greta Van Susteren”: Gary Cohn … Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome … Rep. Donna Shalala (D-Fla.).
— Sinclair’s “America This Week with Eric Bolling”: Dr. Anthony Fauci … Barbara Corcoran … Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) … Jenn Pellegrino … Dr. Dave Campbell and Dr. Dena Grayson. Panel: Sebastian Gorka and Ameshia Cross.
— Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures”: Pre-empted for Easter programming.
— Fox News’ “MediaBuzz”: Pre-empted for Easter programming.
— CNN’s “Inside Politics”: D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. Panel: Harvard Global Health Institute director Dr. Ashish Jah … Brown University’s Megan Ranney … David Axelrod … GENYOUth CEO Alexis Glick … Josh Dawsey … Tamara Keith.
— CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS”: Panel: Thomas Frieden, Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo and Paul Romero … Gordon Brown … WHO spokesperson Dr. Margaret Harris.
— CNN’s “Reliable Sources”: Dean Baquet … Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) … Elmhurst Hospital Center internist Dr. Ashley Bray … Elaina Plott … Jim Mittermann … Sarah Frier.
— Univision’s “Al Punto”: Live reports from New York City, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. … New York paramedic Capt. Lorena Concepción-Martínez … Dr. Anthony Fauci … Rollins School of Public Health’s Dr. Carlos Del Rio … Arlington Spanish Apostolate Diocese director Rev. Jose Eugenio Hoyos … woman who lost her father to COVID-19 in Ecuador, Evelyn Bastidas.
— C-SPAN: “The Communicators”: American Economic Liberties Project executive direction Sarah Miller … “Q&A”: Author and astronaut Kathryn Sullivan.
— “Mack on Politics” weekly politics podcast with Matt Mackowiak (download on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify or Stitcher): Democratic strategist Addisu Demissie.
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