Image: President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Briefing Room, Thursday, March 26, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
The Golden Hammer Staff Reports
Conroe, Austin, and Washington, D.C., March 27 – Montgomery County, Texas, has had 41 positive test results for Chinese coronavirus, also known as COVID-19 or the Kung Flu, while one individual among those 41 has successfully become cured of the illness. Montgomery County has suffered no deaths from the illness, although the Principal of Montgomery High School remains in the intensive care with the affliction.
Community spread and travel are about equal as the causes of the Chinese coronavirus cases in Montgomery County at the present time, according to officials within the County government.
Has government caused the problems which have forced the largest federal spending bill in history on Americans?
Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick sent shockwaves through the liberal media on Tuesday evening when he said to Fox News Host Tucker Carlson, “No one reached out to me and said, ‘As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?’” But if they had? “If that is the exchange, I’m all in.”
Patrick continued: “That doesn’t make me noble or brave or anything like that. I just think there are lots of grandparents out there in this country, like me, I have six grandchildren, that what we all care about and what we love more than anything are those children. And I want to live smart and see through this, but I don’t want the whole country to be sacrificed…I’ve talked to hundreds of people, Tucker, and just in the last week, making calls all the time, and everyone says pretty much the same thing. That we can’t lose our whole country, we’re having an economic collapse. I’m also a small businessman, I understand it. And I talk with businesspeople all the time, Tucker. My heart is lifted tonight by what I heard the president say because we can do more than one thing at a time, we can do two things. So my message is let’s get back to work, let’s get back to living. Let’s be smart about it and those of us who are 70-plus, we’ll take care of ourselves. But don’t sacrifice the country, don’t do that, don’t ruin this great America.”
Clearly, the rush to shut down private businesses has created massive unemployment. Now, government plans have come to light to begin to take stock ownership in entire private industries, such as the airlines.
Congress to pass, send to President Trump, the largest spending bill in history
With rare bipartisanship and speed, Washington is about to deliver massive, unprecedented legislation to speed help to individuals and businesses as the coronavirus pandemic takes a devastating toll on the U.S. economy and health care system.
The House is set to pass the sprawling, $2.2 trillion measure Friday morning after an extraordinary 96-0 Senate vote late Wednesday. President Donald Trump marveled at the unanimity Thursday and is eager to sign the package into law.
The relief can hardly come soon enough. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Thursday the economy “may well be in recession” already and the government reported a shocking 3.3 million burst of weekly jobless claims, more than four times the previous record. The U.S. death toll has surpassed 1,000 from the virus.
It is unlikely to be the end of the federal response. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that issues like more generous food stamp payments, aid to state and local governments, and family leave may be revisited in subsequent legislation.
While conservatives may feel disgusted that conservative Republican members of Congress are supporting the measure, in reality they should feel abject terror at the policy direction of Democrats.
“There’s so many things we didn’t get in … that we need to,” Pelosi told reporters Thursday.
The legislation will pour $1,200 direct payments to individuals and a flood of subsidized loans, grants and tax breaks to businesses facing extinction in an economic shutdown caused as Americans self-isolate by the tens of millions. It dwarfs prior Washington efforts to take on economic crises and natural disasters, such as the 2008 Wall Street bailout and President Barack Obama’s first-year economic recovery act.
But key elements are untested, such as grants to small businesses to keep workers on payroll and complex lending programs to larger businesses. Millions of rebate payments will go to people who have retained their jobs.
Policymakers worry that bureaucracies like the Small Business Administration may become overwhelmed, and conservatives fear that a new, generous unemployment benefit will dissuade jobless people from returning to the workforce. A new $500 billion subsidized lending program for larger businesses is unproven as well.
First the measure must clear Congress. Friday’s House vote will be unusual as the normally raucous chamber promises to pass the measure with a sparsely attended voice vote — remarkable for a bill of such magnitude — so scattered lawmakers don’t have to risk exposure by travelling back to Washington.
Friday’s House session will also be unprecedented. Originally scheduled as a non-working “pro forma” meeting, the session will be extended to a debate on the bill — all conducted under social distancing rules to minimize the risk of transmitting the virus — with a voice vote for passage.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, one of the House’s conservative leaders, said he wasn’t aware of anyone planning to block a voice vote Friday but planned to talk more with colleagues before the vote.
“If that’s the method used to get this to the American people, to get this passed, then I think lots of members are probably OK with that,” Jordan said Thursday as he drove back to Washington. “I know the plan is for it to be a voice vote, and that’s what the leadership has said they’re for, and I think that’s fine.”
Wednesday night’s unanimous Senate vote on the bill was especially striking — a united front that followed days of sometimes tumultuous negotiations and partisan eruptions. Democrats twice voted to block the bill to seek further add-ons and changes.
“The power of the argument that we had — that you need a strong government to solve these problems, both health and economic — carried the day,” Schumer told The Associated Press on Thursday. “Had we not stood up on those two votes it wouldn’t have happened.”
Underscoring the effort’s sheer magnitude, the bill finances a response with a price tag that equals half the size of the entire $4 trillion-plus annual federal budget. The $2.2 trillion estimate is the White House’s best guess of the spending it contains.
The rescue bill would provide one-time direct payments to Americans of $1,200 per adult making up to $75,000 a year and $2,400 to a married couple making up to $150,000, with $500 payments per child.
Unemployment insurance would be made far more generous, with $600 per week tacked onto regular state jobless payments through the end of July. States and local governments would receive $150 billion in supplemental funding to help them provide basic and emergency services during the crisis.
“We call them checks in the mail, but most of them will be direct deposits,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC on Thursday. “It will be within three weeks. We’re determined to get money in people’s pocket immediately.”
The legislation also establishes a $454 billion program for guaranteed, subsidized loans to larger industries in hopes of leveraging up to $4.5 trillion in lending to distressed businesses, states, and municipalities. All would be up to the Treasury Department’s discretion, though businesses controlled by Trump or immediate family members and by members of Congress would be ineligible.
There was also $150 billion devoted to the health care system, including $100 billion for grants to hospitals and other health care providers buckling under the strain of COVID-19 caseloads.
Republicans successfully pressed for an employee retention tax credit that’s estimated to provide $50 billion to companies that retain employees on payroll and cover 50% of workers’ paycheck up to $10,000. Companies would also be able to defer payment of the 6.2% Social Security payroll tax. A huge tax break for interest costs and operating losses limited by the 2017 tax overhaul was restored at a $200 billion cost in a boon for the real estate sector.
An additional $45 billion would fund additional relief through the Federal Emergency Management Agency for local response efforts and community services.
Most people who contract the new coronavirus have mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.
Governor Abbott issues executive order ordering people from New York, Louisiana quarantined for 14 days
Gov. Abbott issued an Executive Order yesterday mandating a quarantine of 14 days for individuals traveling to Texas as their final destination through an airport from the Tri-State Area of New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut, as well as the city of New Orleans. Governor Abbott’s executive order follows:
WHEREAS, I, Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas, issued a disaster proclamation on March 13, 2020, certifying under Section 418.014 of the Texas Government Code that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) poses an imminent threat of disaster for all counties in the State of Texas; and
WHEREAS, the Texas Department of State Health Services has determined that, as of March 19, 2020, COVID-19 represents a public health disaster within the meaning of Chapter 81 of the Texas Health and Safety Code; and
WHEREAS, I issued Executive Order GA-08 on March 19, 2020, Executive Order GA-09 on March 22, 2020, and Executive Order GA-10 on March 24, 2020, all in response to the COVID-19 disaster; and
WHEREAS, many cases of COVID-19 in the State of Texas were caused by people who transmitted the virus to Texans after flying here from other states and countries; and
WHEREAS, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, recently urged everyone who traveled from the New York metropolitan area to self-quarantine for 14 days to ensure that COVID-19 does not spread to others; and
WHEREAS, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, likewise called for 14 days of self-quarantine of travelers from New York so that New York does not act as a “seeding point to the rest of the country;” and
WHEREAS, after the Governor of Florida imposed a quarantine on all air travelers arriving from the New York Tri-State Area, which is experiencing substantial community spread of COVID-19, the Mayor of New York City remarked to the press, “I understand it. We are the epicenter;” and
WHEREAS, the “governor is responsible for meeting . . . the dangers to the state and people presented by disasters” under Section 418.011 of the Texas Government Code, and the legislature has given the governor broad authority to fulfill that responsibility; and
WHEREAS, under Section 418.012, the “governor may issue executive orders . . . hav[ing] the force and effect of law;” and
WHEREAS, under Section 418.017(a), the “governor may use all available resources of state government and of political subdivisions that are reasonably necessary to cope with a disaster;” and
WHEREAS, under Section 418.018(c), the “governor may control ingress and egress to and from a disaster area and the movement of persons and the occupancy of premises in the area;” and
WHEREAS, under Section 418.173, failure to comply with any executive order issued during the COVID-19 disaster is an offense punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000, confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days, or both fine and confinement.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas, by virtue of the power and authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the State of Texas, do hereby order the following on a statewide basis effective at noon on March 28, 2020:
Every person who enters the State of Texas as the final destination through an airport, from a point of origin or point of last departure in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, or the City of New Orleans, or in any other state or city as may be proclaimed hereafter, shall be subject to mandatory self-quarantine for a period of 14 days from the time of entry into Texas or the duration of the person’s presence in Texas, whichever is shorter. This order to self-quarantine shall not apply to people traveling in connection with military service, emergency response, health response, or critical-infrastructure functions, as may be determined by the Texas Division of Emergency Management. Each person covered under this order to self-quarantine shall be responsible for all associated costs, including transportation, lodging, food, and medical care.
A covered person shall use a form prescribed by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to designate a quarantine location in Texas, such as a residence or a hotel, and provide a full name, date of birth, home address, telephone number, and driver license or passport information. DPS Troopers, or other approved peace officers, shall collect a completed form from each covered person immediately upon disembarking and verify it against the person’s driver license or passport. Providing false information on this form is a criminal offense under Section 37.10 of the Texas Penal Code. Questions about this form should be directed to DPS at (800) 525-5555.
A covered person shall proceed directly from the airport to the designated quarantine location entered on the DPS form. Any covered person exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 shall be escorted to the designated quarantine location by a DPS Trooper.
A covered person shall remain in the designated quarantine location for a period of 14 days or the duration of the person’s presence in Texas, whichever is shorter, leaving only to seek medical care or to depart from Texas. During that period, a covered person shall not allow visitors into or out of the designated quarantine location, other than a health department employee, physician, or healthcare provider, and shall not visit any public spaces.
DPS Special Agents will conduct unannounced visits to designated quarantine locations to verify compliance by confirming the physical presence of covered persons. Any failure to comply with this order to self-quarantine shall be a criminal offense punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000, confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days, or both.
This executive order shall remain in effect and in full force until modified, amended, rescinded, or superseded by the governor.
Given under my hand this the 26th day of March, 2020.
Governor Greg Abbott
Representative Toth explains jump in Texas numbers
State Representative Steve Toth, Republican of Conroe, explained, “The Texas counts have increased dramatically over the last few days primarily because the Texas Department of State Health Services has changed the way they update their numbers. Prior to the change, DSHS’ would validate each case before publishing the numbers. They now validate the details of each case after updating the numbers in order to provide more up-to-date data counts.”