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Bernie Sanders Wins New Hampshire Primary

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  • Sen. Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire primary, with Mayor Pete Buttigieg coming in at a close second.
  • Entrepreneurs Andrew Yang and Sen. Michael Bennet separately announced that they were dropping out of the race before polls closed.
  • While Sanders and Buttigieg have emerged as the frontrunners in the first two contests of the 2020 election, the upcoming Nevada Caucus and South Carolina primary will likely prove to be key tests for both candidates.

Bernie Sanders Wins New Hampshire

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) declared victory in the New Hampshire presidential primary Tuesday night after receiving the most votes in the first primary race of the 2020 election cycle.

With 98% of precincts reporting, Sanders has received 25.7% of the vote, followed by South Bend Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg with 24.4%. 

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MIN), who had a strong showing, came in third with 19.8%, followed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) with 9.2% and former Vice President Joe Biden with 8.4%. 

Sanders declared victory in a speech Tuesday in front of a cheering crowd of supporters.

“And let me say tonight, that this victory here is the beginning of the end for Donald Trump,” he said.

“With victories behind us, popular vote in Iowa, and the victory here tonight, we’re going to Nevada, we’re going to South Carolina, we’re going to win those states as well.”

Buttigieg congratulated Sanders on his win, but he also argued that the progressive Senator’s movement is divisive.

“In this election season we have been told by some that you must either be for revolution, or you are for the status quo. But where does that leave the rest of us?” he asked.

“Most Americans don’t see where they fit in that polarized vision, and we can’t defeat the most divisive President in modern American history by tearing down anybody who doesn’t agree with us 100% of the time.” 

Even before the polls closed entrepreneur Andrew Yang and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) both separately announced that they were dropping out of the race.

“I am the math guy, and it is clear tonight from the numbers that we are not going to win this race,” Yang said.

Biden, seemingly discouraged by his preliminary results, left New Hampshire early to go campaign in South Carolina, where he told a crowd of supporters, “It ain’t over, man. We’re just getting started.” 

Other Highlights and Takeaways

There is some truth to Biden’s remarks. There have only been two elections, only 2% of the total delegates have been allocated.

While these last two races have both shown Sanders and Buttigieg on top, the Nevada Caucus on Feb. 22 and the South Carolina primary the following week will be the real tests for both campaigns.

For Buttigieg, Iowa and New Hampshire have given him a lot of momentum, but many experts say that those elections are not indicative of how he will do moving forward.

Iowa and New Hampshire are two of the whitest states in the country, and while the mayor has shown strength among white voters he polls low with people of color.

His support among non-white voters will be put to the test in Nevada and South Carolina, which are much more diverse states. According to NPR, “Nevada was 41% nonwhite in 2016, and 61% of South Carolina Democratic voters were African American.”

For Sanders, the test will be his ability to mobilize the progressive vote in states he lost to Hillary Clinton by wide margins in 2016.

Sanders may have won New Hampshire this year, but he also won it in 2016.

Another thing that will be interesting to watch is the third-place candidate in these next few elections.

While it was fairly clear after Iowa that either Sanders or Buttigieg would take first and second, third was still up for grabs.

The fact that Klobuchar took that spot, beating out Warren by a large margin of more than 10%, could signal how she will do in other states.

See what others are saying: (NPR) (The Washington Post) (Fox News)

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Trump Suggests Delaying 2020 Election, Makes False Claims About Mail-in Voting

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  • President Donald Trump appeared to float the idea of delaying the election on Thursday and made false claims about mail-in voting, which numerous states have expanded in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The president does not have the power to move the general election, an authority given solely to Congress under the Constitution.
  • Separately, the Constitution also states that the four-year term of a president must end on Jan. 20.
  • While the White House later walked back the president’s remarks, the suggestion still drew bipartisan backlash from members of Congress.
  • Trump has repeatedly made false claims about mail-in voting and claimed it is the biggest risk to his re-election, a fact that many say is an attempt to undermine the outcome of the election.

Trump Floats Delaying Election

President Donald Trump stirred up significant outcry on Thursday after suggesting in a tweet that the 2020 general election be delayed.

“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history,” he wrote. “It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

The president has zero legal authority to change the date of the general election. Under the Constitution, Congress is given the power to set the date for the general, and states are given the power to choose when their primaries are. There is nothing that gives the president that ability. 

Even if Congress did want to delay the election, it would be an incredibly complicated and tough legal process. The date of the general election was set by a federal law in 1895, which says it must be the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

In order to change that, both the Republican-controlled Senate and the Democrat-held House would have to pass legislation, Trump would have to sign off, and that would still be subject to legal challenges in court.

But even if that all happened, the 20th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution mandates that the four-year term of a president and vice president end at noon on Jan. 20, and because that date is set in the Constitution, any change to that would require a Constitutional amendment.

That is arguably the most important thing to keep in mind here. Even if the election was delayed, the Constitution, as is, still says it has to happen before Jan. 20. If it does not happen before then, Trump cannot simply continue to be the president after his term ends Jan. 20 without changing the Constitution. The same applies for Vice President Mike Pence.

If, for whatever reason, there was not an election or a Constitutional amendment changing the term date, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) would become the president on Jan. 20.

Though, notably, if there is not a  presidential election, there would also most likely not be a congressional election, meaning Pelosi’s term would end Jan. 3 and the Senate Pro Tempore, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Ia.) would take over the presidency.

The remarks drew immediate bipartisan ire and prompted rebukes from several key Republican members.

“Never in the history of the federal elections have we not held an election, and we should go forward,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca.) 

“Never in the history of the country, through wars, depressions and the Civil War, have we ever not had a federally scheduled election on time, and we’ll find a way to do that again this Nov. 3,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said during an interview later on Thursday.

The White House denied that Trump wants to change the election from November 3rd.

Continued Attacks

While Trump’s exact intentions with floating the idea of moving the election remain unclear, many accused the president of trying to sow discord and set up a scenario where if he loses the election, he and his supporters could refuse or challenge the results. 

Over the last few months, Trump has launched numerous attacks on the mail-in ballot expansions many states have undertaken in response to the coronavirus pandemic, repeatedly claiming that voting-by-mail will rig the election and lead to inaccuracies and fraud. 

Experts and politicians on both sides of the aisle allege that those attacks, almost all of which are based on falsities, are continued efforts by Trump to undermine the election results.

Instances of voter fraud are very rare in general. Specifically, the five states that already conduct voting almost entirely by mail have reported very little fraud.

While experts do say that it is true that without the proper security measures, mail-in voting is more susceptible to fraud, they also note that one of the most significant examples of absentee ballot fraud in decades was actually designed to help a Republican. 

That instance took place during the 2018 race for North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, when a Republican operative was charged with election fraud after collecting absentee ballots for the Republican candidate, Mark Harris. State election officials mandated that the election be held again.

However, experts also use that as an example to show that fraud that is big enough to change an election outcome will probably be detected.

But despite the fact that there is hard historical and scientific evidence to back all of that up, Trump has continually pushed these false claims, and in recent weeks, he has only ramped up his efforts and rhetoric.

During an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace earlier this month, Trump refused to say if he would accept the results of the 2020 election.

“It depends. I think mail-in voting is going to rig the election,” he said. “I have to see. I’m not just going to say yes, I’m not going to say no.”

According to a tally by The Washington Post, since late March, Trump has gone after mail-in voting nearly 70 times in interviews, remarks, and tweets, including at least 17 times this month alone. 

Trump has also recently said that mail-in voting is his biggest risk for his re-election, and claimed that it will hurt Republicans more, though studies have found that mail-in voting does not favor one party either way.

States Expanding Mail-In Ballots

On the other side, Democrats have accused Trump and other Republicans who have pushed to limit mail-in voting during the pandemic of undermining democracy by making people choose between exercising their right to vote and endangering their health.

Many also accused them of engaging in voter suppression, arguing that it’s not mail-in voting that will hurt the Republicans, but rather, voter turn out.

According to data from the National Vote at Home Institute, states that changed their presidential primaries to largely mail-in voting this year saw much bigger voter turnout than states that mostly held in-person contests. In fact, seven of the nine states that saw the lowest turnout held their elections primarily in person.

For example, Montana, which had the highest percentage of voter turnout in the nation with 63%, sent ballots to all registered voters and encouraged them to vote by mail. In Pennsylvania, a crucial battleground state, 1.5 million people voted by mail in the primary, nearly 18 times the amount of people who voted by mail in the state in 2016.

If states with mail-in voting have higher turnout, that has huge implications for the general election. While some states have been inflexible, the vast majority of others have either relaxed their rules for absentee and mail-in voting or already had those rules in place.

According to The Post, currently, over 180 million eligible voters will be able to vote by mail in the election. Of those eligible voters, 24 million live in states that have either switched to allow no-excuse absentee voting or will now allow fear of the coronavirus as a reason to vote absentee.

Meanwhile, only eight states are keeping in-person voting as the only option unless the voter can give an approved reason other than fear of the coronavirus. 

Those massive expansions, which have timed out perfectly with Trump’s increased attacks, seem to indicate that Trump views increased voter turn-out as a threat. That could not come at a worse time for the embattled leader.

Current polls are increasingly showing him trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden,  including in some key battleground states. Trump’s unusual tweet Thursday also came just minutes after the Commerce Department reported that the U.S. GDP fell 9.5 percent last quarter, the largest quarterly drop on record.

But for now, it seems like the election will stay put. And with just 95 days to go, the clock is ticking.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (USA Today) (The New York Times)

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Senate Republicans Unveil Stimulus Proposal. Here’s What You Need to Know

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  • Senate Republicans on Monday announced the $1 trillion HEALS Act, their version of a coronavirus relief bill.
  • Among other things, the bill includes cutting unemployment to $200 a week until October, another stimulus check, school and health funding, and protections for businesses. 
  • The bill does not include any money to state and local governments or any assistance to renters.
  • Democrats have opposed many provisions of the bill, setting everyone up for a battle just days before unemployment insurance expires and two weeks before Congress goes on recess.

Senate Republicans Announce HEALS Act

Following months of anticipation, Senate Republicans on Monday officially rolled out their long-awaited coronavirus relief bill proposal, the $1 trillion HEALS Act.

The proposal comes after weeks of infighting between Senate Republicans, as well as the White House, over what to put in the bill. It also comes nearly five months after the first stimulus bill, the CARES Act, was signed into law in March.

While the Democrat-led House passed its own $3 trillion stimulus bill, the HEROES Act, in early May, Senate Republicans wanted to wait to pass more coronavirus relief legislation, arguing that another was not yet needed and that the reopenings would help the economy.

Now, with widespread coronavirus spikes leading to more closures and many Americans hurting, Senate Republicans are down to the wire to pass a new coronavirus relief bill as key parts of the CARES Act are set to expire—and some already have.

Now that Republicans have hashed out a proposal, they still have to negotiate a bill with the Senate Democrats that could viably be passed by the House, and there are already some major differences between the Republican plan and what the Democrats want.

Here’s what you need to know about the major provisions in this proposal, how they measure up to Democrat proposals, what might happen moving forward, and what all of this means for the American people.

Unemployment Benefits

Likely the biggest logjam between the two parties is the question of federal unemployment benefits.

Under the first stimulus bill, all Americans who filed for unemployment got an additional $600 each week from the federal government on top of the money they were receiving from state unemployment. That extra $600 kept many people afloat, especially because normal unemployment in most states covers less than half of what a worker would normally make on the job.

The main reason this has become such a hot-button issue is because those federal benefits are set to expire in less than a week. While Democrats want to extend the $600, Republicans have argued that some people are making more off unemployment than they would at their jobs.

Under the current version of the HEALS Act, the federal government would provide a $200 a week for each unemployed worker until October. In that time, states would be required to switch over to the new system where unemployed workers would get 70% of the wages they made before.

If states cannot implement that totally new system by Oct. 5, they can request a waiver to continue the $200 for another two months.

Numerous experts have warned that states are already overwhelmed with unemployment requests and were already having trouble paying out the flat $600. As a result, they would really struggle with a major overhaul of their current system that also requires them to implement a difficult and very specific program.

Democrats have already rejected the idea of changing the state distribution method, but it’s also not their only issue.

While a state program that gives people 70% of the wages they made before they were unemployed would, in many cases, come out to more than $200 a week, the bill, as is, would cap those payments at $500. 

Notably, according to Ernie Tedeschi, an economist in the Treasury Department under Obama who spoke to The Washington Post, that means that workers in some states with low unemployment benefits who earn just $50,000 a year would hit the cap and not get the full 70% of their previous income.

In other words, no matter which way you cut it, the Senate GOP’s proposal would be a massive cut to the unemployment benefits that 30 million people—or nearly one out of every five American workers—are currently receiving.

Evictions, Funds for State & Local Governments, & Other Points of Contention

There are several other major issues between the two parties over what is in the Senate proposal—and even more significantly, what’s not.

Another one of the biggest problems for Democrats is that Republicans have explicitly said that they will not give any new money to state and local governments. Their plan does give those governments more flexibility in using the $150 billion fund approved under the last stimulus package, but it still differs significantly from the Democrats, who have long pushed for more funding.

The HEROES Act allocated $1 trillion alone to state and local governments.

Another notable item not in the plan is an extension on the federal evictions ban. That ban, known as the eviction moratorium, was signed into law under the first coronavirus relief bill and made it illegal for landlords who own buildings and homes with federal mortgages to evict renters.  

That ban, which applied to nearly a third of all American renters, expired at midnight on Friday.

Some states and cities have put their own eviction bans in place, but with the eviction ban ending, millions risk losing their homes during a pandemic.

But Republicans have nothing to address that or any other kind of relief for America’s renters. This will likely be a problem for Democrats, who have proposed not only expanding the moratorium beyond the federal level, but also extending it until next March.

Another major element of the Senate’s plan is a five-year liability shield, which would protect businesses, schools, non-profits, medical facilities, and other organizations from being sued by their employees if they contracted coronavirus on the job.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said multiple times that he will not pass a coronavirus relief bill without this provision, but Democrats have also expressed a strong desire to keep the liability provision out of the bill. 

Democrats have argued that in addition to prioritizing corporate interests, the protections it would allow businesses to mistreat their workers and put them in dangerous positions—a point they will likely push given the fact that hazard pay for essential workers was also left out of the Republican bill.

Stimulus Checks, School Funding, & Other Points of Agreement 

There are also some places where the Republicans and the Democrats agree, at least in principle.

For example, both have said they want another round of the $1,200 stimulus checks. Under the Republican plan, the checks would go out following the same formula as before—meaning the same people who got them the first time would get them again—though notably, it also has more restrictions on the checks being sent to prisoners and dead people.

The Republican bill also changes the eligibility for the extra $500 per each child dependent, so that families with dependents over 17 years old can get the money, unlike last time, which capped the extra payment at kids 16 and under.

The Democrats plan is basically the same, except that under the package passed by the House, dependents would also receive $1,200.

There is also bipartisan support for another round of support for small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Under the Republican plan, there would be another wave of PPP that better targets small businesses, which is something Dems also seem on board with too.

Both sides of the aisle also agree that more there needs to be an expansion of funding for schools and health, though they have each proposed different amounts. In terms of schools, The GOP plan includes $105 billion for K-12 and higher education.

While the House bill allocated a similar amount at $100 billion, Senate Democrats have said they want $430 billion for schools.

Regarding healthcare, Republicans have proposed $16 billion for expanding testing and contact tracing and $26 billion for vaccine development and distribution, but it is unclear how much Dems want, especially because the House bill allocated $75 billion for the same areas.

What Now?

Despite certain bipartisan measures, Republicans and Democrats are clearly set up for a battle.

While rolling out his proposal Monday, McConnell appeared to hit on that note, calling on his Democratic colleagues to “put aside partisan stonewalling,” and “rediscover the sense of urgency that got the CARES Act across the finish line.”

Democrats, for their part, have slammed the Republicans for waiting so long to give them a bill they knew they would have objections too.

While speaking to reporters Monday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-Ny.) criticized Republican bill, calling it a “half-hearted, half-baked legislative proposal,” and “too little, too late.”

“The lack of any urgency, understanding, and empathy for people who need help from Senate Republicans has led us to a very precarious moment,” he said, before specifically taking aim at the unemployment proposal.

“The Republican proposal on unemployment benefits, simply put, is unworkable, he added. The idea that we need to drastically reduce these benefits because workers will stay home otherwise is greatly exaggerated.”

Pelosi also made similar remarks after a meeting she had yesterday with top White House officials, where both she and Schumer said that there is still a big gap between Democrats and Republicans.

But that’s not the only gap. There are also divisions among the Senate Republicans, many of whom do not want another coronavirus relief package at all.

Already, some major Republicans have said they will vote against the bill, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx.).

“There is significant resistance to yet another trillion dollars,” he said Monday.“As it stands now, I think it’s likely that you’ll see a number of Republicans in opposition to this bill and expressing serious concerns.”

Even before the bill was officially rolled out, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-Sc.) also made a similar prediction on Sunday.

“Half the Republicans are going to vote no to any phase 4 package, that’s just a fact,” he told Fox News.

Clearly, there is a long road ahead, but notably, there is not much time. In addition to unemployment benefits expiring at the end of this week, Congress is also scheduled to take a recess starting Aug. 7. That gives them just two weeks to figure everything out. 

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (Forbes) (NPR)

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Celebrities and Politicians Applaud AOC’s Speech Condemning Rep. Yoho’s Remarks and a Culture of “Violent Language Against Women”

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  • On Monday, Rep. Ted Yoho called Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a “fucking bitch.” He later addressed the insults but failed to deliver a full apology for them.
  • Ocasio-Cortez then gave a speech Thursday, condemning his comments and the sexist culture that allows them.
  • “I want to be clear that Rep. Yoho’s comments were not deeply hurtful or piercing to me because I have worked a working class job,” she said during her ten-minute speech. “I have tossed men out of bars that have used language like Mr. Yoho’sThis is not new. And that is the problem.”
  • She also called him and others out for using wives and daughters as shields or excuses for sexist behavior, reminding him that she is someone’s daughter too.
  • Now, fellow politicians like Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, as well as Hollywood stars like Olivia Wilde, Chrissy Teigen, and Mark Ruffalo, are praising the congresswoman for her response.

AOC Shoots Back at Yoho

Celebrities and politicians are praising Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Ny.) for her powerful speech condemning recent remarks Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fl.) levied at her in front of the Capitol.

On Monday, Yoho called the New York congresswoman a “fucking bitch” along with a slew of other insults. Yoho addressed his comments, but only apologized for the “abrupt manner of the conversation.” He went on to say that he could not apologize for his “passion.” 

Ocasio-Cortez delivered a scathing speech on the House floor criticizing Yoho’s initial offenses, as well as his non-apology.

“I want to be clear that Rep. Yoho’s comments were not deeply hurtful or piercing to me because I have worked a working class job. I have waited tables in restaurants, I have ridden the subway, I have walked the streets in New York City,” she said.

“And this kind of language is not new. I have encountered words uttered by Mr. Yoho and men uttering the same words as Mr. Yoho while I was being harassed in restaurants. I have tossed men out of bars that have used language like Mr. Yoho’s, and I have encountered this type of harassment riding the subway in New York City. This is not new. And that is the problem.”

She went on to say that other men, Republicans in particular, have called her similar names and that the issue of misogynistic language in politics, as well as the rest of the world, extends far beyond this single incident. 

“It is cultural,” Ocasio-Cortex explained. “It is a culture of lack of impunity, of accepting of violence and violent language against women, an entire structure of power that supports men.”

Politicians and Celebrities Respond

Her ten-minute speech quickly caught the attention of many online, including other leading politicians and Hollywood stars. Actress Gabrielle Union and singer Janelle Monae both called Ocasio-Cortez’s speech a “must watch.”

“I’m sorry you had to do it. But I’m so proud that you did,” wrote director Ava DuVernay. 

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Ca.) thanked her for speaking out against this kind of sexist behavior. 

“We cannot be silent,” she wrote.

“Imagine what we could get done if women didn’t have to deal with things like this,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Ma.) added.

“I am Someone’s Daughter Too”

In a moment that struck a particular chord with many, Ocasio-Cortez criticized men for repeatedly using their wives, daughters, and other women in their life as a defense when they are accused of sexist behavior. This was a strategy Yoho opted to use when he brought up his wife and two daughters while addressing his remarks. 

“And that I could not let go. I could not allow my nieces, I could not allow the little girls that I go home to, I could not allow victims of verbal abuse and worse, to see that — to see that excuse — and to see our Congress accept it as legitimate, and accept it as an apology,” she said. 

“And I do not need Rep. Yoho to apologize to me. Clearly, he does not want to. Clearly, when given the opportunity, he will not, and I will not stay up late at night waiting for an apology from a man who has no remorse over calling women and using abusive language towards women,” she further stated. “But what I do have issue with is using women, our wives, and daughters, as shields and excuses for poor behavior.”

“I am someone’s daughter too,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

“Having a daughter does not make a man decent,” she added. “Having a wife does not make a decent man. Treating people with dignity and respect makes a decent man.”

Many shared this specific clip to applaud the congresswoman for expressing this frustration that many have held for so long. 

“I am so sick of men using their daughters as evidence of their empathy for women,” actress and director Olivia Wilde wrote. 

“If Luna turns out to be half the woman Alexandria is, I will have won,” model and television personality Chrissy Teigen said of her four-year-old daughter. 

Former FBI Director James Comey also shared her words on this subject. 

“So many ‘tough guys,’ so few men,” “Avengers” star Mark Ruffalo said. 

Actress Jessica Chastain also called for men to stop using the women in their lives as shields.

So far, Yoho has not further responded to the situation.

See what others are saying: (The Independant) (New Yorker) (Los Angeles Times)

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