President Donald Trump on Thursday night made an effort to turn his Democratic challenger’s campaign rallying cries against him, as he accepted the Republican Party’s nomination and delivered the last speech at the GOP’s four-day convention.
“In America, we don’t turn to government to restore our souls. We put our faith in Almighty God,” Trump said, in a reference to Biden’s pledge to “restore the soul of America.”
“Joe Biden is not a savior of America’s soul. He is the destroyer of America’s jobs, and if given the chance, he will be the destroyer of American greatness.”
Trump said his opponent’s record is “a shameful roll call of the most catastrophic betrayals and blunders in our lifetime,” highlighting Biden’s vote for “the Nafta disaster, the single worst trade deal ever enacted,” as well as his support of “China’s entry into the World Trade Organization, one of the greatest economic disasters of all time.” The president said China “supports Joe Biden and desperately wants him to win. I can tell you that upon very good information.”
“He repeatedly supported mass amnesty for illegal immigrants. He voted for the Iraq war,” Trump also said.
Ahead of the president’s remarks, Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, attacked Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, saying he was “unwilling and unable to deal with this crisis” in part because he was “fixated on the stock market SPX, +0.16% DJIA, +0.56%
over fixing the problem.”
Trump defended his administration’s response to the pandemic, saying it launched the largest national mobilization since World War II, and the U.S. has among the lowest case fatality rates of any major country.
Trump also seized on a line in Biden’s speech a week ago. In his address at the Democratic convention, the former vice president cast himself as “an ally of the light, not the darkness,” as he pledged to rebuild the battered U.S. economy and tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
“Joe Biden may claim he is an ‘ally of the light,’ but when it comes to his agenda, Biden wants to keep you completely in the dark,” Trump said. He accused the former vice president of planning a $4 trillion tax hike, which “will totally collapse a rapidly improving economy and once again record stock markets that we have right now will also collapse — that means your 401(k)s.”
“Biden has promised to abolish the production of American oil, coal, shale and natural gas — laying waste to the economies of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Colorado and New Mexico,” Trump said. “These same policies led to crippling power outages in California just last week.” (Biden’s campaign has said he does not endorse completely banning fossil fuels, and the cause of California’s blackouts is still being investigated.)
“How can Joe Biden claim to be an ‘ally of the light’ when his own party can’t even keep the lights on?” he asked.
The president also said Democrats will “make every city look like Democrat-run Portland, Oregon. No one will be safe in Biden’s America.”
“If the left gains power, they will demolish the suburbs, confiscate your guns, and appoint justices who will wipe away your Second Amendment and other constitutional freedoms,” he said.
In RealClearPolitics averages of polls as of Thursday, Biden is leading Trump by 7.1 percentage points in nationwide surveys and by 3.7 points in key swing states that are likely to decide the November election.
As the U.S. continues to grapple with COVID-19, we can’t lose sight of the pandemic’s impact on the criminal justice system. All 10 of the top clusters for the virus are in correctional institutions. Beyond the wrenching human toll on individuals incarcerated and the staff who work in jails and prisons, corrections departments are incurring hundreds of millions of dollars in additional costs, ranging from overtime due to worker illness or quarantine to the procurement of protective equipment.
In the face of these human and fiscal costs, this public health crisis has underscored the need to rethink the scope of the current system.
Prior to COVID-19, Americans across the spectrum were already embracing a more multi-faceted approach to public safety that looks to other solutions beyond incarceration when appropriate, including deflection, diversion and treatment for people who suffer from substance use disorder or serious mental illness. Now in the face of significant state budget shortfalls on the horizon, policymakers must double down on making smart use of even more limited resources to ensure public safety, while reinvesting savings in prevention and cost-effective alternatives to unnecessary incarceration.
Policymakers and leaders in corrections are confronted with an grim situation, whether measured in health or economic terms. Cases of the coronavirus behind bars have continued to mount in recent weeks. Prison deaths tied to the pandemic have risen by 73% since mid-May. Overcrowded conditions, poor sanitation, minimal health care and restricted access to cleaning and hygiene supplies have turned jails and prisons into incubators for COVID-19 infection, endangering not just the people who live and work in them, but entire communities.
The cost to taxpayers is mounting. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the annual cost of incarceration in the U.S. was already $182 billion before the pandemic. Broken down by person, the cost to taxpayers for each person in state prisons (calculated by dividing the total state spending on prisons by the average daily prison population) was already an average $33,274, and far higher in some states, with a high of $69,355 in New York. And this only accounts for the cost of operating prisons, jails, parole, and probation — leaving out other costs including policing, court costs and economic losses incurred by families of incarcerated people.
These costs will only rise due to the pandemic. Texas, for example, is spending $45 million on coronavirus tests, to be used mostly behind bars. As of July 21, more than 13,000 people incarcerated in Texas’ 104 state-run prisons and jails, plus 2,355 employees, had tested positive for the coronavirus, according to agency reports. Other states are facing similar challenges.
The public understands the urgent need for action. A national survey found that 66% of likely voters, including 59% of those identifying as “very conservative,” believe elected officials should consider measures to reduce overcrowding in prisons and jails. Survey research over many years has shown that most Americans believe the U.S. locks up too many people.
This is not a question of taking rash action because of COVID-19 or even unanticipated and new concerns. Instead, the virus has brought into sharp focus preexisting problems, such as the graying of the U.S. prison population. In Texas alone, some 9,682 of those in prison are aged 60 or older, and this demographic is the fastest-increasing group nationwide. Older prisoners also are the most vulnerable to dying from the coronavirus, yet research shows that they are the least likely to reoffend, with a recidivism rate in some studies of under 3 %. For that reason, virtually all correctional experts prior to COVID-19 argued that with individualized screening for public safety risk, we could safely reduce the elderly prison population.
Some localities have made strides in reducing the number of people coming into jails and improving conditions for people who remain incarcerated. For instance, Bexar County District AttorneyJoe Gonzales worked to reduce the jail population by expanding cite and release practices, as permitted under a 2007 Texas state law signed by then-Gov. Rick Perry covering minor misdemeanors such as low-level marijuana possession. In an eight-month period, this policy diverted 1,900 people from jails and thereby reduced potential exposure to the coronavirus, saving the county from costly medical care and potential long-term disability of residents.
Such efforts are commendable and essential, but state prison systems cannot be overlooked. Fortunately, some state governors have stepped up, both to identify those who can be safely released and implement safeguards to make prisons more sanitary for those who must remain. For example, in Iowa, by the middle of May, Gov. Kim Reynolds had presided over the release of 1,293 people out of a prison population that totaled about 8,500. An individualized risk assessment was used for screening and reentry arrangements were made, including safe housing. Many of those released would have finished their sentences within a few months.
Numerous current prosecutors and former prosecutors have recently spoken out in support of targeted approaches for identifying those in prison, including the elderly and medically vulnerable, who can safely be transitioned back to the community with the right reentry supports.
Meanwhile, state leaders must also dramatically improve conditions for those still behind bars. Just like the issue of geriatric parole was a longstanding one, ensuring proper sanitary conditions and health care was a challenge before the pandemic. Critical needs have long been denied: for instance, lack of proper feminine hygiene supplies behind bars is so common that in 2018 the American Legislative Exchange Council, the national organization of conservative state legislators, adopted a model policy requiring that women in prison receive feminine hygiene products. Now, rapidly improving sanitation and hygiene is a matter of not just human dignity, but life and death.
Social distancing will always be challenging in overcrowded correctional institutions, but by decreasing the population we can make that achievable to some degree and the availability of testing and protective equipment can limit the spread of this deadly virus and still prioritize public safety. Not only does this help those who are incarcerated and staff, it also means precious space is kept free in rural hospitals, that already have limited capacity, which they can use to treat other members of the community.
The U.S. has 5% of the world’s population but 20% of the world’s incarcerated population. ”
In this moment, many are comparing the impact of COVID-19 in the U.S. to that in other nations. Part of that equation is that the U.S. is hampered by having so many more correctional institutions per capita — the U.S. has 5% of the world’s population but 20% of the world’s incarcerated population. With more than 6,900 correctional facilities in the U.S., the pandemic has demonstrated the extent to which the health of those behind bars is inextricably tied to that of our entire society.
This pandemic has put a bright spotlight on the problems that have long festered in U.S. prisons and jails. And the pandemic is now and is already requiring states to tighten their belts. By taking this opportunity to reexamine who, if, and for how long we incarcerate, as well as conditions of confinement, policymakers can ensure the U.S. emerges from this pandemic with a justice system that enables everyone to be safer and healthier. Protecting the public and delivering justice must always remain a core government function, but now more than ever, this mission must be accomplished through smart policies that are fiscally responsible.
Miriam Aroni Krinsky served for 15 years as a federal prosecutor, including on an organized crime and narcotics task force, and is now executive director of Fair and Just Prosecution. Marc Levin is chief of policy & innovation for Right on Crime, an initiative of the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
As President Donald Trump calls for another federal eviction moratorium, a new report has shed light on just how many Americans are facing housing insecurity as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the associated economic downturn.
Between 30 and 40 million people in the U.S. could be at risk of eviction in the next several months, according to a report released Friday by a group of housing researchers. The report aggregated existing research related to the housing crisis caused by COVID-19.
The researchers said the current situation could be “the most severe housing crisis” in the nation’s history.
As the novel coronavirus first began spreading across the country and prompting business shutdowns, many state and local lawmakers took swift action to enact eviction moratoriums to protect people who suddenly found themselves without a source of income to pay their bills. Many renters were already in a precarious position before the pandemic: Research from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University found that nearly half of all renter households were cost-burdened before the pandemic, meaning over a third of their income went toward rent.
At the federal level, the CARES Act placed a temporary moratorium on evictions for renters living in buildings supported by federal funding. But that moratorium expired at the end of July, and many of the moratoriums at the state and local level have also ceased.
“The vast majority of states lack protective eviction moratoriums and housing stabilization measures that could support renters facing rent hardship,” researchers wrote, citing work done by the Eviction Lab at Princeton University and health and housing law expert Emily Benfer.
‘The housing market embodies the inequality that was magnified and exacerbated by COVID-19.’ ”
— Diane Swonk, chief economist at accounting firm Grant Thornton
Previously, research showed that people of color are disproportionately at more risk of being evicted currently.
More than one-quarter of Black renters nationwide missed last month’s rental payment, U.S. Census Bureau survey data show. And nearly one in six Black renters said they have no confidence that they will be able to pay the following month’s rent.
The tenuous situation facing renters is in sharp contrast with the current state of affairs for homeowners and home buyers.
“The housing market embodies the inequality that was magnified and exacerbated by COVID-19,” Diane Swonk, chief economist at accounting firm Grant Thornton, wrote on Twitter TWTR, -1.45%.
“My stomach churns every time I think of what the evictions will mean for homelessness, which was rising when we were at 3.5% unemployment.”
Mortgage rates have fallen to record lows eight times amid the pandemic. As a result, thousands of homeowners have refinanced their home loans in recent months, and many prospective home buyers have flooded the market looking to scoop up properties to lock in low rates.
Most homeowners who are facing financial trouble still have lifelines available to them. The CARES Act stipulated that any homeowner with a federally-backed mortgage could receive forbearance for up to one year. During that time, homeowners can make reduced monthly payments or skip paying altogether.
Once forbearance ends, homeowners who are still in financial trouble will have a wide array of loss mitigation options available to them to adjust their mortgages in order to avoid default or foreclosure.
Additionally, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates Fannie Mae FNMA, +0.95%
and Freddie Mac FMCC, +0.47%
, and the Federal Housing Administration have both extended foreclosure and eviction moratoriums through the end of August at least.
There’s a ride at Disney World called the Carousel of Progress in which a cast of animatronic Americans on a revolving stage tell of all the technological upgrades to our lives since 1900: indoor plumbing, flight, television. It’s one of Walt’s original attractions, dating back to the 1964 New York World’s Fair — and the name could not be more apt. Carousels, for all their dizzying motion and calliope music, mostly just spin in place. “Progress” is like that, too.
I thought about that ride and its promise of “a great, big, beautiful tomorrow,” midway through Eddie Glaude Jr.’s profound and timely new book, “Begin Again.” The Princeton professor of African American Studies uses the life and words of James Baldwin as a lens to make sense of our present moment, somehow still spinning, like a broken reckoning, on the same carousel of horrors Black America has ridden since even before the Founding Fathers coded racism into our nation’s operating system.
Yes, America has made great strides toward racial justice, but too often on a treadmill.
Baldwin’s disillusionment as the civil-rights movement seemed to lose momentum in the 1970s and 1980s in what he called the “after times” gives us language and ideas for seeing better in 2020, Glaude writes. A national discourse pockmarked by racist rhetoric and dog whistles, the massive Black Lives Matter protests, and the outpouring of outrage and grief following the death of George Floyd all suggest we are in a new “after times,” Glaude says.
In 1962, in his famous letter to his nephew on the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, Baldwin wrote that “we can make America what America must become.” This was decades before Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign slogan, “Let’s make America great again,” and its foreshortening by Donald Trump for 2016. Baldwin’s version is unlikely to end up on any campaign hats, red or blue, but it is emblematic of his continued hope in spite of all evidence to the contrary.
“I guess he saw something like Donald Trump on the distant horizon, and, however bitter he seemed, he still wrote to us with love,” Glaude writes of Baldwin. “He still played the same notes no matter how dissonant they sounded.”
Glaude’s book shook me into seeing better, and reading better. I am embarrassed to confess I had not read Baldwin before, something I have since made a project of correcting. I have been spending the past month “thinking with Jimmy,” as Glaude calls it. In his novels and nonfiction Baldwin had a distinct ability to find words to make sense of the infernal and ineffable depths of America’s soul. As a Black man, a gay man, a New Yorker, an expatriate who spent years in Paris and Istanbul, the son of a preacher, and the grandson of enslaved people, he was able to see America from within and without. As a Whitman and as a de Tocqueville.
‘America is always changing and it’s never changing.’ ”
— Eddie Glaude Jr., quoting James Baldwin
Books cannot fix America. But we need new words to find the path forward. “The root function of language is to control the universe by describing it,” Baldwin wrote..
I spoke to Glaude about Baldwin, about “Begin Again” and about the economic dimensions of racism in America. This conversation will kick off a MarketWatch interview series with leaders in business, government and the academy about how to address the racial wealth and income gaps. We’re calling it The Value Gap, adopting Glaude’s term for the lie at the heart of so much senseless misery and brutality.
MarketWatch: Let’s begin with the idea in the title “Begin Again.” When I first read your book, my immediate reaction was, this a terrible, depressing notion, that fighting racism is ultimately a Sisyphean task. But I sense you and Baldwin, who you’re quoting here, seem to be saying there is optimism amid the exasperation.
Glaude: Well, hopefulness — not necessarily optimism. There is a Sisyphean kind of quality to it. We have to push this damn boulder up the hill again. It has this existentialist quality to it, too, because the beautiful struggle itself becomes the aim, since there is no guarantee of the outcome. In our history it doesn’t bode very well, even in this moment. For we have these moments when the nation could be otherwise, and then we double down on our ugliness in the face of it.
This makes me think about John Lewis’s passing. And about Fred Douglass, who lives to see Lincoln sign the Emancipation Proclamation and also lives to see the first Jim Crow law passed, and he dies the year before Plessy v. Ferguson.
John Lewis lived long enough to see that we elected Donald Trump, and to see Black Lives Matter. He had to grapple with the fact that, I am 80 years old, I am about to take my last breath, and we are still fighting this fight.
What Baldwin is saying by “begin again” is the value may not be in the end of that typical American desire to resolve it all so that we can be comfortable. It might very well be in the ongoing struggle to build a more just society.
MarketWatch: When we talk about racism in America, we tend to also talk about money. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. began his “I have a dream” speech by noting that “America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.’” Baldwin said, “A bill is coming in that I fear America is not prepared to pay.” He also lamented that “the price of the ticket” to American life was not the same in white and Black America. But you suggest that first we need to address what you call the value gap. What do you mean by the value gap, as opposed to the income and wealth gaps?
Glaude: The value gap is the through line in American history. It is the belief that white people matter more than others. That belief evidences itself in our habits, our practices and our dispositions. It shapes and informs our social, political and economic arrangements.
So, when we talk about the wealth gap or empathy gap or the education gap, all of those are consequences or reflections of a society organized along the lines that some people, because of the color of their skin, ought to be valued more. And the value gap shapes the distribution of advantages and disadvantages.
So what the value gap looks like in the context of slavery is going to be very different than what it looks like in context of Jim Crow, than what it will look like in the context of the first Black president.
We can’t just look for the loud racists, only paying attention to those folks who are screaming those ugly things, when in fact the value gap is reproduced in our daily choices, in the habits and the lies we tell ourselves.
MarketWatch: You say the value gap is “The Lie.” But what is the role of money here? How much of the struggle of Black America in 2020 is due to economics? The nation was founded on the insidious equation that a Black person is worth three-fifths as much as a white person. In 2020, however, the median Black household worth is one-tenth that of the median white household — if we could get to three-fifths that would be an improvement. So to make the point, if we reduce American society to a Monopoly board, while white players start the game with the usual $1,500, Black players get just $150. What are the odds one of those players would end up with Boardwalk and Park Place and win the game — some might, but it would be like hitting the lottery. Can the value gap even be addressed without first tackling the wealth gap?
Glaude: Stick with that Monopoly analogy. Yes, some start with $1,500, some start with $150, as you said, but some can’t even get past Go, because they are blocked. They aren’t going to get the $200. This has generational implications.
This is hard for us to think about as a society because we tend to think of racial justice as a zero-sum game. This idea that we have to take something from hardworking people and give it to people who are considered less hardworking.
We don’t want to admit that land grants, we were cut out of. The New Deal, we were cut out of. The very policies that built the vaunted American middle class, thanks to the deal made between FDR and Southern Democrats, we were cut out of it. It’s as if we never had segmented, dual labor markets and dual housing markets.
I am not talking about the distant past. I am talking about my dad. I am talking about John Lewis.
MarketWatch: So the value gap cannot be eliminated by economic policy alone?
Glaude: Any economic system that is predicated on the disposability of people, Baldwin is going to reject it. I am going to reject it. So the way in which we reconcile this is not by simply appealing to markets that can drive up the standard of living of Black folk and create some kind of equity as a result. No, we have to change the fundamental center of gravity of our moral concern and how it organizes our lives.
Budgets reflect what and who we value. If we look at how resources are allocated in this country, it reflects what and who we care about. For me, for example, I can’t fathom an economic system that can produce a trillionaire.
We have to change, at the heart of it all, what we value. Once that happens markets can be deployed in ways to ensure the public good as we imagine it.
MarketWatch: Baldwin seems suspicious of the idea of progress. Is progress real? Is it even possible?
Glaude: Baldwin has that line: “America is always changing and it’s never changing.”
That question around progress is part of our insistence on our innocence. “Haven’t we progressed?” is usually a question that is asking for congratulations and gratitude: Look where we are. You should be thankful.
MarketWatch: It’s like the line in “Hamilton”: “Look at where you are. Look at where you started. The fact that you’re alive is a miracle …” That may be true, but it’s not enough.
Glaude: Yes, in some ways the country views racial justice as a philanthropic enterprise, as a charitable gesture. If racial justice is seen as philanthropic as opposed to a central understanding of who we take ourselves to be as Americans, we are still caught in the frame of the value gap, because some people see racial equality as theirs to give to others.
In the book, I use a quote from Baldwin’s “The Uses of the Blues”:
I’m talking about what happens to you if, having barely escaped suicide, or death, or madness, or yourself, you watch your children growing up and no matter what you do, no matter what you do, you are powerless, you are really powerless, against the force of the world that is out to tell your child that he has no right to be alive. And no amount of liberal jargon, and no amount of talk about how well and how far we have progressed, does anything to soften or to point out any solution to this dilemma.
Here I am a Princeton professor, right? Princeton Ph.D. and living quote-unquote the American Dream, and I still have to worry about that taking root in my child — progress? What the hell do you mean?
MarketWatch: You say Baldwin’s message is always one of love. But in “No Name in the Street,” he writes, “White Americans are probably the sickest and certainly the most dangerous people, of any color, to be found in the world today.” You echo that sentiment, writing, “In our after times, our task, then, is not to save Trump voters — it isn’t to convince them to give up their views that white people ought to matter more than others. Our task is to build a world where such a view has no place or quarter to breathe.” That doesn’t sound very hopeful.
Glaude: Baldwin makes this distinction between white people, and people who happen to be white. I love that distinction because I happen to love a lot of people who happen to be white.
Those people who are invested in this idea that the color of your skin ought to determine the distribution of advantage and disadvantage, those people have had the country by the throat from the beginning. What he is saying is that those of us who are committed to a more just world, not a more perfect union — that lets us off the hook, but a more just world — only have a finite amount of civic energy. And what we need to be doing is not try to convince those other folks who hold those noxious views, because what happens over and over again every generation is we end up compromising with them — compromises we have to bear the burden of. I don’t want to spend my energy trying to convince someone who thinks I am less than human — that I am not worthy of dignity — I don’t want to have that argument anymore, and that unsettles people.
MarketWatch: Baldwin said that “we can make America what America must become.” I have been thinking about that line as we see history rewritten, names changed and statues toppled. You say we need to tell a new story of America. But who should tell it?
Glaude: So the story we tell, we have to tell it together. It has to be a story of our contradictions and our sins as much as it is about our triumphs and aspirations. It is not to bludgeon ourselves with our failures but to confront what we have done.
The Confederate monuments are lies. The “Lost Cause” is a lie.
Truth becomes the basis of reconciliation. Baldwin says, you can’t do all of this damage and then claim innocence. That innocence is the crime.
(Footnote: Disney stopped updating the Carousel of Progress in 1994, though it continues to keep operating as a spinning time capsule. It is a nostalgia piece. In this series we will speak to leaders in business, policy, and academia to explore how America and its economy can avoid such a fate. Stay tuned.)
And the report found what it called a “shocking” collapse of the image of the U.S. in the eyes of many Europeans. China suffered a drop in public opinion, as well.
“Each superpower has seen its reputation collapse in some of the countries that were its closest allies and partners,” the report notes.
More than half of those surveyed overall (59%) said that their view of the U.S. has worsened during the coronavirus crisis, while just under half (48%) expressed a worse opinion of China, where cases of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 were first reported. Those who have soured on the U.S. the most include people hailing from Denmark (71%), Portugal (70%) and Germany (65%). Almost half of Italians (48%) have also adopted a more negative view of America.
“If Trump’s America struggles so much to help itself, how can it be expected to help anyone else?” ”
Most residents in many EU nations, including France, Sweden and Spain, on the other hand, reported that their view of the U.S. had “stayed the same.” Overall, just 6% of those surveyed said that their view of the U.S. has improved during the pandemic.
The chart highlighting the changing sentiment toward America went viral on reddit, drawing more than 4,000 comments as of press time on Thursday. Many in the comments didn’t express much surprise, noting that their own opinions of the country have stayed pretty much the same.
See it for yourself below:
And here’s how EU views of China have changed, in comparison:
“If Trump’s America struggles so much to help itself, how can it be expected to help anyone else?” the report muses. “If this domestic chaos continues, many Europeans could come to see the U.S. as a broken hegemon that cannot be entrusted with the defense of the Western world.”
Many Americans are also struggling with national pride at home, according to a recent WalletHub survey, which found almost one in three feel less patriotic heading into the Fourth of July holiday celebrating U.S. independence this year.
Granted, the surveyed European citizens also expressed plenty of disappointment to the EU’s own coronavirus response, as well. Many Europeans, including 58% of the French, said that the EU has been “irrelevant” during the pandemic, and one in three of those surveyed said that they have lost confidence in their government’s ability to act based on the handling of the pandemic.
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