The stock market just hit its first record since the pandemic started

(CNN Business)The S&P 500 (SPX) closed at an all-time high on Tuesday for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the United States.

The index, which is the broadest measure of Wall Street, had been hovering in record territory for days but repeatedly fell short of reaching the milestone. But Tuesday was finally the day. It close up 0.2%, the first record since February 19.

The record is a big deal, because it means it only took Wall Street five months to go from the most recent trough — after the pandemic selloff in March — to a new peak. This would make the Covid bear market the shortest in history, at just 1.1 months, said S&P Dow Jones Indices’ Howard Silverblatt. Stocks fell into a bear market during the spring selloff.

“It’s hard to believe, but the 2020 bear market is officially over,” wrote UBS Global Wealth Management’s Americas CIO Solita Marcelli in a note to clients.

The market climbed higher on a combination of unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimulus in response to the pandemic, as well as hopes for a swift economic rebound.

“This is bittersweet news for some investors, who had hoped for another opportunity to buy more stocks on another market decline. On the bright side, this new bull market still offers opportunities for investors,” Marcelli said.

Although large-cap US stocks have been climbing higher over the summer, smaller American companies, as well as international stocks have more room to run.

By other definitions, a new bull market is only achieved after a 20% rally that doesn’t get undercut within six months. This would be the case next month unless the market witnesses a dramatic selloff.

“Many continue to wonder why stocks are at new highs with 10% unemployment and nearly a million people filing for initial unemployment claims. The truth is economic data is backward looking and stocks are looking ahead to a much brighter future,” said Ryan Detrick, Chief Investment Strategist for LPL Financial in emailed comments.

The Nasdaq Composite (COMP) also finished at a record high on Tuesday, up 0.7%, although it only had to exceed Monday’s peak to accomplish that.

The Dow (INDU) was the odd index out, closing the day lower, dragged down by losses in the energy and financial sectors. It ended down 0.2%, or 67 points. The index remains 6% below its peak.

CNN Poll: Biden and Trump matchup tightens as enthusiasm hits new high

CNN – Joe Biden’s lead over Donald Trump among registered voters has significantly narrowed since June, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS, even as the former vice president maintains an advantage over the President on several top issues and his choice of California Sen. Kamala Harris as a running mate earns largely positive reviews.

And on the eve of the party conventions, a majority of voters (53%) are “extremely enthusiastic” about voting in this year’s election, a new high in CNN polling in presidential election cycles back to 2003.

Overall, 50% of registered voters back the Biden-Harris ticket, while 46% say they support Trump and Pence, right at the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. Among the 72% of voters who say they are either extremely or very enthusiastic about voting this fall, Biden’s advantage over Trump widens to 53% to 46%. It is narrower, however, among those voters who live in the states that will have the most impact on the electoral college this fall.

View Trump and Biden head-to-head polling

Across 15 battleground states, the survey finds Biden has the backing of 49% of registered voters, while Trump lands at 48%.

The pool of battleground states in this poll includes more that Trump carried in 2016 (10) than were won by Hillary Clinton (5), reflecting the reality that the President’s campaign is more on defense than offense across the states. Taken together, though, they represent a more Republican-leaning playing field than the nation as a whole.

The movement in the poll among voters nationwide since June is concentrated among men (they split about evenly in June, but now 56% back Trump, 40% Biden), those between the ages of 35 and 64 (they tilt toward Trump now, but were Biden-leaning in June) and independents (in June, Biden held a 52% to 41% lead, but now it’s a near even 46% Biden to 45% Trump divide).

Trump has also solidified his partisans since June. While 8% of Republicans or Republican-leaning independents in June said they would back Biden, that figure now stands at just 4%. And the President has boosted his backing among conservatives from 76% to 85%.

But the survey suggests that Trump’s voters are a bit more likely to say that they could change their minds by November (12% say so) than are Biden’s backers (7%).

More voters say their choice of candidate is about Trump than say it is about Biden. Nearly 6 in 10 say they support the candidate they do because of their view of Trump (29% say their Biden vote is more to oppose Trump, 30% say they are casting a Trump vote in support of him), while only 32% say Biden is the deciding factor (19% are voting in favor of Biden, 13% casting a ballot to oppose him).

Overall, 54% disapprove of the way Trump is handling his job as president and 42% approve. That’s an uptick since June, and about on par with Trump’s ratings from earlier this year. It still lands the President near the bottom of a list of historical approval ratings for presidents seeking reelection just ahead of their nominating conventions. Trump lands ahead of Jimmy Carter (33% approval) and George H.W. Bush (35%), but below Barack Obama (48%), George W. Bush (49%), Bill Clinton (53%) and Ronald Reagan (54%).

Trump’s favorability rating remains underwater nationally (43% see him favorably, 55% unfavorably), a bit worse than Biden’s 46% favorable to 47% unfavorable even split. In the battleground states, though, voters’ views on the two candidates are almost even: 52% have an unfavorable opinion of Biden, 54% of Trump. Both candidates are viewed favorably by 45% in those states.

Kamala Harris seen as a good pick

Harris joins the ticket with a narrowly positive favorability rating (41% have a favorable view, 38% unfavorable), which is an improvement since May when 32% of Americans said they had a positive view of her and 33% a negative one.

Biden’s selection of Harris is rated as excellent or pretty good by most (52%), and 57% say it reflects favorably on Biden’s ability to make important presidential decisions. Most say she is qualified to be president should that be necessary (57%). And a majority, 62%, say her selection does not have much effect on their vote. People of color, though, are more likely than White people to say her selection makes them more likely to back Biden (28% among people of color, 18% among whites).

Compared with other recent Democratic running mates, Harris fares well. The 30% who call her selection excellent outpaces the share who said so in CNN polling on John Edwards in 2004, Biden in 2008, Joe Lieberman in 2000 or Tim Kaine in 2016. And the 57% who say she is qualified to serve as president if that becomes necessary is only topped by Biden (63%) and Al Gore in 1992 (64%).

On the issues

The poll suggests that supporters of the two candidates are living in alternate universes when it comes to the issues that matter to their vote. Overall, the economy, coronavirus, health care, gun policy and race relations are rated as extremely important by at least 40% of voters. But there are large gaps between Biden and Trump voters on the importance of these issues. Seventy percent of Biden voters say the coronavirus is critically important vs. 24% of Trump voters. Among Trump backers, 57% rate the economy as extremely important, while 37% of Biden voters agree. Majorities of Biden supporters (57% in each case) call health care and race relations extremely important, while only about 1 in 5 Trump backers agree (20% on health care, 22% on race relations).

Biden tops Trump as better able to handle most of the issues tested in the poll: Racial inequality in the US, the coronavirus outbreak, health care and foreign policy. Trump wins out on handling the economy. Voters are closely divided over which candidate would keep Americans safe from harm (50% say Biden would, 47% Trump). And more generally, Biden is more often seen as having “a clear plan for solving the country’s problems” (49% choose Biden to 43% Trump) and as better able to “manage the government effectively” (52% Biden to 44% Trump).

And when it comes to these top issues, nearly all Trump and Biden supporters think their man is the right one for the job. Just 1% of Biden backers say they would trust Trump over Biden to handle racial inequality in the US, and only 2% would trust Trump to handle the coronavirus outbreak. On the flip side, 2% of Trump voters say they would prefer Biden on the economy, and only 4% choose him on the coronavirus outbreak.

Overall, Biden holds the edge on a range of positive traits often seen as valuable in a run for the White House. Most say he cares about people like them (53% Biden, 42% Trump), shares their values (52% Biden to 43% Trump), and is honest and trustworthy (51% Biden to 40% Trump). More also say Biden will unite the country and not divide it (55% Biden to 35% Trump). But in this matchup between two septuagenarians, voters are split over which one has the stamina and sharpness to be president (48% say Trump, 46% Biden).

The CNN Poll was conducted by SSRS August 12 through 15 among a random national sample of 1,108 adults reached on landlines or cellphones by a live interviewer, including 987 registered voters. The survey also includes an oversample of residents of 15 battleground states for a total subsample of 636 adults and 569 registered voters from those states. That subset was weighted to its proper share of the overall adult population of the United States. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points. It is 4.0 points among registered voters and 5.4 points for results for registered voters in the battleground states.

U.S. Postal Service warns states that mail-in ballots may not be counted in time

CBS News –  The U.S. Postal Service is sending letters to states warning that their mail-in ballots may not be counted in time because their provisions for voting by mail “are incongruous” with post office delivery standards. The U.S. Postal Service confirmed late Friday that letters that indicated concerns about on-time ballots had been sent to 41 states.

Seven states were informed that their ballot request deadlines are “compatible” with delivery standards and “should allow sufficient times for voters to receive, complete, and return such ballots by the state’s Election Day postmarking deadline.”

Vermont and Washington D.C. were sent letters that they have “sufficient time” for voters to receive ballots, but the postal service said it “cannot fully assess” if their planned use of mail aligns with the delivery standards.

The Postal Service faces a financial crisis exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said a week ago that the agency’s financial situation is “dire,” “stemming from substantial declines in mail volume, a broken business model and a management strategy that has not adequately addressed these issues.”

DeJoy warned that congressional intervention is needed, and a bipartisan group of senators has been pressing for $25 billion in additional Postal Service funding to keep it afloat. While President Trump had indicated he would not support a financial bailout for the Postal Service, he said Friday he would support it “if they (Democrats) gave us what we want,” that is, a payroll tax cut and more loans for small businesses.

The letters were sent to the secretaries of state from Postal Service general counsel and executive vice president Thomas Marshall and are dated at the end of July.

While the letters vary slightly from state to state, they warn that states whose ballot request and submission deadlines are “incongruous” with the Postal Service’s delivery standards is resulting in a “mismatch” that “creates a risk that ballots requested near the deadline under state law will not be returned by mail in time to be counted under your laws as we understand them.”

The Postal Service said in a statement, “Some states have reported Election Mail volumes that are 10 times higher than any previous year. The Postal Service is well prepared and has ample capacity to deliver America’s election mail. However, the increases in volume and the effect of when volumes were mailed in the primary elections presented a need to ensure the Postal Service’s recommendations were reemphasized to elections officials.”

Meanwhile, the Postal Service disclosed earlier this week that it lost $2.2 billion between April and June. Officials are warning that the agency could face $20 billion in losses over two years. It also reported a $4.5 billion loss for the first quarter, before the full economic effects of the pandemic were evident.

On Friday, former President Obama told his campaign manager David Plouffe on Plouffe’s podcast that Mr. Trump is trying to “actively kneecap the Postal Service” ahead of the election.

Mr. Trump has frequently repeated the false claim that mail-in voting leads to voter fraud, but he requested a mail ballot in Florida.

“Whether you call it Vote by Mail or Absentee Voting, in Florida the election system is Safe and Secure, Tried and True,” Mr. Trump tweeted on August 4. “Florida’s Voting system has been cleaned up (we defeated Democrats attempts at change), so in Florida I encourage all to request a Ballot & Vote by Mail!”

The Trump campaign and Republican Party are suing Nevada after officials joined several states that plan to automatically send voters mail ballots. Two other states, California and Vermont, moved to adopt a similar policy. Five other states had already adopted vote-by-mail measures even before the coronavirus pandemic raised safety concerns about voting in person.

Senator Elizabeth Warren has called for an investigation into changes at the postal service under DeJoy, who was appointed by Mr. Trump. A spokesperson for the inspector general confirmed on Friday that they are “conducting a body of work to address concerns raised. We cannot comment on details of ongoing work” of DeJoy’s tenure.

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New Jobless Claims Fall Below 1 Million

Washington Post –  About 960,000 workers filed for unemployment insurance last week, which marks the first time that initial claims dipped below 1 million since mid-March, when the coronavirus pandemic first took hold and workers were told to stay home.

The weekly claims figure for the week that ended Aug. 8 fell below the 1.18 million claims from last week but remained well above historic highs. The pre-pandemic record for initial weekly claims was 695,000, from 1982, another recession.

Another 488,000 new claims were filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which is offered to gig and self-employed workers.

All told, more than 28 million people are receiving some form of unemployment benefits as of the week of July 25, down more than 3 million from the previous week.

Economist said the longer the pandemic drags down the economy, the more job losses will become permanent — and the more likely people filing weekly claims are not going to bounce back and be rehired, as many were earlier in the pandemic.

“We’re finally below 1 million, so that’s something to celebrate,” said Beth Ann Bovino, the chief economist at S&P Global Ratings Services. “But it stops there. The worry I have is that the times of quick recalls are in the past. I suspect that these jobs being lost are permanent, and that’s a real problem for the economy and for these households.”

The numbers come as economic issues take increased prominence in the presidential election. President Trump has been touting the numbers of jobs that have been regained in the past three months, despite the unemployment rate and weekly claims remaining around historic highs.

Congress continues to be deadlocked in negotiations over extending the extra federal unemployment benefits that expired at the end of July. Economists have warned about the damage to the economy if those enhanced benefits, which many workers credit with helping them keep up to date on basic payments of rent and groceries, are not renewed.

Trump on Saturday issued an executive order that he claimed would enhance unemployment benefits by circumventing Congress, but the order raises questions about legality and how it would be implemented by the states. It’s unclear whether it will affect unemployment insurance in the near future.

 

Payroll Tax Delay To Boost Take-Home Pay, But Don’t Spend It Yet

NPR –  President Trump wants to give a $100 billion boost to the U.S. economy by hitting the “pause” button on workers’ payroll taxes.

That would leave more money in people’s paychecks. But the move — which Trump ordered over the weekend — is only temporary. And that could produce headaches down the road for workers, employers and the Social Security system.

Trump announced the payroll tax suspension on Saturday as part of a series of moves designed to sidestep Congress after talks on a more comprehensive bill to provide coronavirus relief broke down. He directed the Treasury Department to stop collecting the 6.2% payroll tax from workers making up to $104,000 a year. The move is supposed to take effect next month.

“This will mean bigger paychecks for working families as we race to produce a vaccine,” Trump told reporters assembled at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J.

Critics say this particular relief measure is misguided since it benefits only people who are lucky enough to have a job still. What’s more, because the tax relief is only temporary, workers are expected to repay the taxes next year.

“What good does that do people if they just get a temporary payroll tax cut and have to put that somewhere to save it to repay the money in a balloon payment a couple of months from now?” asked Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. “That’s really done very little to improve the economy.”

Trump insists his goal, if he’s reelected, is to cut the payroll tax for good.

“If I’m victorious on Nov. 3, I plan to forgive these taxes and make permanent cuts to the payroll tax,” Trump said. “I’m going to make them all permanent.”

But while the president can delay the collection of taxes, only Congress can eliminate them altogether. There’s no guarantee lawmakers would do so. And if they did, that would be a severe blow to Social Security, which the delayed payroll taxes pay for.

“Social Security is already facing immense pressures in terms of the finances,” MacGuineas said. “Getting rid of the revenue source that funds the program would make the finances of it much, much worse.”

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow argued that the administration would simply borrow money if necessary to make up for any shortfall in Social Security.

Still, the payroll tax suspension seemed to have little support outside the White House and a small circle of presidential advisers. It never gained much traction in Congress. And the U.S. Chamber of Commerce made clear it’s not something its members were asking for.

“The people who love the payroll tax cut are the American people,” said conservative pundit Stephen Moore — an adviser to Trump’s campaign who was briefly floated as a nominee for the Federal Reserve.

Moore, who co-founded the anti-tax Club for Growth, has been one of the most dogged advocates for payroll tax relief.

“Virtually all Americans who are working are going to see a nice boost in their paychecks,” he said of the deferred tax collection. “That puts money in the economy and incentivizes people to work. I think that’s a very positive effect.”

Employers are supposed to stop withholding the payroll tax on Sept. 1, but for many it won’t be that easy. Companies need guidance from the IRS on exactly who is eligible to have their taxes suspended and how to keep track so those taxes can eventually be repaid.

“It’s going to be a mixed bag of employers,” said Pete Isberg, vice president of government relations for ADP, which handles payroll for hundreds of thousands of employers. He said while some companies will be able to adjust their computers quickly to stop withholding payroll taxes, “some will be able to do it in October or November. And some may just never do it.”

Isberg said companies also want some reassurance that they won’t be on the hook for their workers’ taxes, if Congress doesn’t forgive the bill. They’ll also have to try to explain to employees why take-home pay is or is not going up in September, and how that could be reversed early next year.

Kanye West polling at 2% nationwide against Trump and Biden more than a month since announcing bid

Washington Times –  Kanye West continues to poll at 2% among U.S. voters, a new survey revealed Wednesday, more than a month since the billionaire rapper and mogul announced his presidential campaign.

Conducted this past Sunday and Monday, the nationwide poll asked 1,983 registered voters about how they would vote if the presidential election was held now instead of November.

Only 2% of respondents — 33 people in all — told pollsters they would rather cast their ballot for Mr. West than President Trump or presumptive Democratic nominee Joseph R. Biden.

Forty-nine percent of respondents said they would vote for Mr. Biden, 40% said they would vote for Mr. Trump, and 9% said they did not know who they would pick or had no opinion.

The national tracking poll was conducted by Morning Consult for Politico and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points, according to the pollster.

Mr. West, 43, announced he was running for president on July 4, effectively missing the deadline for him to appear on the ballot as an independent in many states this fall.

A nationwide poll of 2,000 registered voters conducted days later by Redfield & Wilton Strategies found that only 2% of respondents said they would consider voting for Mr. West, who has previously expressed his support for Mr. Trump.

It has since emerged that Republican operatives have assisted with trying to get Mr. West on the ballot in several states. Mr. Trump has denied involvement.

Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston said Tuesday that Mr. West will appear on the ballot there this fall after submitting more than the 1,000 signatures needed to qualify.

More recently, The New York Times reported Wednesday morning that Mr. West met privately last weekend in Colorado with Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law.

The White House offered no immediate reaction to The Times report.

Mr. West has previously qualified to appear on the ballots in Oklahoma and Colorado, and he is currently fighting to appear in Wisconsin, The Associated Press reported this week.

Forty-nine percent of people said they heard about Republicans helping the West campaign, Morning Consult reported Wednesday. Fifty-one said they heard not much or nothing at all.

Mr. West is married to reality TV star Kim Kardashian West.

Biden picks Kamala Harris as running mate

Santa Fe New Mexican – WILMINGTON, Del. — Joe Biden named California Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate Tuesday, making history by selecting the first Black woman to compete on a major party’s presidential ticket and acknowledging the vital role Black voters will play in his bid to defeat President Donald Trump.

In choosing Harris, Biden is embracing a former rival from the Democratic primary who is familiar with the unique rigor of a national campaign.

The 55-year-old first-term senator, who is also of South Asian descent, is one of the party’s most prominent figures. She quickly became a top contender for the No. 2 spot after her own White House campaign ended.

She will appear with Biden for the first time as his running mate at an event Wednesday near his home in Wilmington, Del.

In announcing the pick, Biden called Harris a “fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants.” She said Biden would “unify the American people” and “build an America that lives up to our ideals.”

Harris joins Biden at a moment of unprecedented national crisis. The coronavirus pandemic has claimed the lives of more than 160,000 people in the U.S., far more than the toll experienced in other countries. Business closures and disruptions resulting from the pandemic have caused severe economic problems. Unrest, meanwhile, has emerged across the country as Americans protest racism and police brutality.

Trump’s uneven handling of the crises has given Biden an opening, and he enters the fall campaign in strong position against the president. In adding Harris to the ticket, he can point to her relatively centrist record on issues such as health care and her background in law enforcement in the nation’s largest state.

The president told reporters Tuesday he was “a little surprised” that Biden picked Harris, pointing to their debate stage disputes during the primary. Trump, who has donated to her previous campaigns, argued she was “about the most liberal person in the U.S. Senate.”

“I would have thought that Biden would have tried to stay away from that a little bit,” he said.

Harris’ record as California attorney general and district attorney in San Francisco was heavily scrutinized during the Democratic primary and turned away some liberals and younger Black voters who saw her as out of step on issues of racism in the legal system and police brutality. She declared herself a “progressive prosecutor” who backs law enforcement reforms.

Biden, who spent eight years as President Barack Obama’s vice president, has spent months weighing who would fill that same role in his White House. He pledged in March to select a woman as his vice president, easing frustration among Democrats that the presidential race would center on two white men in their 70s.

Biden’s search was expansive, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a leading progressive; Florida Rep. Val Demings, whose impeachment criticism of Trump won party plaudits; California Rep. Karen Bass, who leads the Congressional Black Caucus; former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice; Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, whose passionate response to unrest in her city garnered national attention, and reportedly New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

A woman has never served as president or vice president in the United States. Hillary Clinton was the Democratic presidential nominee in 2016. Two women have been nominated as running mates on major party tickets: Democrat Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 and Republican Sarah Palin in 2008. Their parties lost in the general election.

The vice presidential pick carries increased significance this year. If elected, Biden would be 78 when inaugurated in January, the oldest man to ever assume the presidency. He’s spoken of himself as a transitional figure and hasn’t fully committed to seeking a second term in 2024.

Harris, born in 1964 to a Jamaican father and Indian mother, spent much of her formative years in Berkeley, Calif. She has often spoken of the deep bond she shared with her mother, whom she has called her single biggest influence.

Harris won her first election in 2003 when she became San Francisco’s district attorney. In that post, she created a reentry program for low-level drug offenders and cracked down on student truancy.

She was elected California’s attorney general in 2010, the first woman and Black person to hold the job, and focused on issues including the foreclosure crisis. She declined to defend the state’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage and was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

After being elected to the Senate in 2016, she quickly gained attention for her assertive questioning of Trump administration officials during congressional hearings.

Harris launched her presidential campaign in early 2019 with the slogan “Kamala Harris For the People,” a reference to her courtroom work. She was one of the highest-profile contenders in a crowded Democratic primary and attracted 20,000 people to her first campaign rally in Oakland.

But the early promise of her campaign eventually faded. Her law enforcement background prompted skepticism from some progressives, and she struggled to land on a consistent message that resonated with voters. Facing fundraising problems, she abruptly withdrew from the race in December 2019, two months before the first votes of the primary were cast.

One standout moment of her presidential campaign came at the expense of Biden. During a debate, she said Biden made “very hurtful” comments about his past work with segregationist senators and slammed his opposition to busing as schools began to integrate in the 1970s.

“There was a little girl in California who was a part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day,” she said. “And that little girl was me.”

Shaken by the attack, Biden called her comments “a mischaracterization of my position.”

The exchange resurfaced recently with a report that one of Biden’s closest friends and a co-chair of his vice presidential vetting committee, former Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, still harbors concerns about the debate and that Harris hadn’t expressed regret.

The comments attributed to Dodd and first reported by Politico drew condemnation, especially from influential Democratic women who said Harris was being held to a standard that wouldn’t apply to a man running for president.

Some Biden confidants said Harris’ debate attack did irritate the former vice president, who had a friendly relationship with her. Harris was also close with Biden’s late son, Beau, who served as Delaware attorney general while she held the same post in California.

But Biden and Harris have since returned to a warm relationship.

“Joe has empathy, he has a proven track record of leadership and more than ever before we need a president of the United States who understands who the people are, sees them where they are, and has a genuine desire to help and knows how to fight to get us where we need to be,” Harris said at an event for Biden earlier this summer.

At the same event, she bluntly assailed Trump, labeling him a “drug pusher” for his promotion of the unproven and much-questioned malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the coronavirus. After Trump tweeted “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” in response to protests about the death of George Floyd, a Black man in police custody, Harris said his remarks “yet again show what racism looks like.”

Harris has taken a tougher stand on policing since Floyd’s killing. She co-sponsored legislation in June that would ban police from using chokeholds and no-knock warrants, set a national use-of-force standard and create a national police misconduct registry, among other things. It would also reform the qualified immunity system that shields officers from liability.

The list in the legislation included practices Harris did not vocally fight to reform while leading California’s Department of Justice. And while she now wants independent investigations of police shootings, she didn’t support a 2015 California bill that would have required her office to take on such cases.

“We made progress, but clearly we are not at the place yet as a country where we need to be and California is no exception,” she told the Associated Press recently. The national focus on racial injustice now, she said, shows “there’s no reason that we have to continue to wait.”

Pick Your Story

Choose up to two (2) article from the list below. These articles are from Real Clear Politics. Most of the articles are editorials or opinion pieces that do not cover the story in a non-bias approach. If there is an article that appears to have a view from the other side of the political spectrum, read both articles to see how the issues is covered.

Be sure to reference the article(s) within your comment.

Monday, August 10

Kamala Harris Should Say No to Vice Presidency – Willie Brown, San Francisco Chronicle
There Will Be No October Surprise This Year – Paul Waldman, The American Prospect
Trouble w/Mail-in Voting Is Govt Incompetence – John Daniel Davidson, The Federalist
Obama Is Wrong About the Filibuster – Bill Scher, RealClearPolitics

 

Democrats hold firm in demands for coronavirus relief bill as impasse continues

CBS News – Washington — Democratic congressional leaders are holding firm on their priorities in negotiations with White House officials and Senate Republicans over the next coronavirus relief bill, refusing to budge on a long-term extension of enhanced unemployment benefits of $600 per week to unemployed Americans that expired at the end of July.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi discussed the ongoing negotiations in a press conference with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday. In recent weeks, Pelosi and Schumer have met almost daily with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

“We have to move more quickly because the light at the end of the tunnel may be the freight train of the virus coming at us if we do not act to contain it,” Pelosi told reporters. She and Schumer argued that Republicans do not comprehend the gravity of the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Republicans want to apply just a Band-Aid,” Schumer said, referring to the White House offer for a short-term extension of the unemployment benefits. “We won’t let them just pass the Band-Aid, go home and leave America bleeding.”

Schumer also slammed Meadows and Mnuchin for appearing to set a Friday deadline for negotiations. Mnuchin told reporters Wednesday that “our objective is to try to reach an understanding of the major issues by Friday.”

“We’re not quitting, we are ready to work, we will keep working,” Schumer countered.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Thursday that the Senate would not adjourn for its August recess until a deal was reached. Senators “will have 24-hour notice before a vote, but the Senate will be convening on Monday, and I will be right here in Washington,” McConnell said. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced last week that the House would be canceling its August recess.

Meadows said after meeting with Pelosi and Schumer Wednesday that they continue to be “trillions of dollars apart” in terms of their priorities. Democrats are seeking to reach a deal similar to legislation passed by the House in May, which would cost approximately $3 trillion. Republicans have criticized the price tag as excessive, and questioned why provisions like election assistance for states were included.

“Our Republican counterparts refuse to acknowledge running a pandemic in the middle of an election is difficult,” Schumer told reporters on Thursday, saying that White House officials did not understand the “depth” and “breadth” of the crisis.

Schumer and Pelosi signaled again that they were unwilling to budge on the $600 per week figure. Some Republicans have argued that this would incentivize Americans to remain unemployed if they were making more on unemployment insurance than they were at their old jobs. Pelosi said this thinking demonstrated “condescension to American working families.”

Pelosi scoffed at the Republican proposal introduced last week which would have provided an additional $200 per week in unemployment benefits.

“When they showed up last week it was already too late, and they came to the table with $200. It was already too late,” Pelosi said, arguing that Republicans should have come to the negotiating table earlier since the benefits expired at the end of July.

She also shot down the idea that they could consider a short-term extension of the benefit if a deal could not be reached, saying “we’re not having a short-term extension.”

Schumer, Pelosi, Mnuchin and Meadows are expected to meet again on Thursday afternoon.

Senate Republicans on Thursday expressed skepticism that a deal between the two parties could be reached. Senator Lisa Murkowski said it “doesn’t look like” White House officials and Democrats would have successful negotiations, and Senator Mike Rounds simply said “nope” when asked by reporters if he thought they would reach a deal this week.

“I believe there will be a deal, yes, but I don’t know that I could characterize the probability of it being successful,” Senator Mitt Romney said, offering slightly more hope than his colleagues.