US President Donald Trump (L) speaks with anchor Bill Hemmer during a Fox News virtual town hall meeting from the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on March 24, 2020.
'Where the hell are the ventilators?' Keilar responds to Trump
01:52 - Source: CNN

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CNN  — 

Lawmakers say they are on the cusp of a deal to pass a massive $2 trillion (it’s grown!) stimulus package that includes checks for many Americans and direct aid to US businesses.

Democrats in the Senate got some concessions from Republicans on oversight of a $500 billion fund to help businesses. We’re going to go line by line through this thing, which could pass as soon as tonight even though not many people have read it.

I’ll have more in the newsletter tomorrow or take a look at

Hold tight: They’re turning a massive conference center into a massive temporary field hospital in New York City and the governor, Andrew Cuomo, issued an alarming warning that other states are next. New York has more than half of the 50,000 US cases.

But the curve is not flattening. The surge is coming, he said.

Cuomo literally begged for 30,000 ventilators. Read more here.

He also had some inspiring words about New Yorkers.

Let up: Contrast that concern and those warnings with the message from Washington, where President Donald Trump wants to get the country back to work ASAP (by April 12, he said on Fox News) regardless of what the doctors say. CNN reported today about ideas under consideration by the White House:

  • a phased system that would see younger people (under 40?) return to the workplace first
  • keeping restrictions in place only on vulnerable people and senior citizens
  • lifting the federal guidelines but explicitly endorsing individual governors acting differently
  • keeping some federal guidelines in place but changing others to allow states more leeway
  • targeting specific types of employees to return to work, including people who drive themselves and don’t work in large groups.

Older folks willing to risk their safety to keep America great: Meanwhile, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, taking a cue from Trump, suggested Monday night on Fox News that he’d be happy to look out for his own safety (he’s turning 70 soon) if it meant getting the country back to work. (This reminds me of the attitude Prime Minister Boris Johnson took 10 days ago, when much of the UK was kept open. The country has since changed its tune and shut down like the rest of Europe.)

Biden says listen to the experts: Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, perhaps hoping to get some face time with Americans when Trump has dominated airwaves, did an extensive interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper. He said the President should “stop talking and start listening to the medical experts.”

“Look, we all want the economy to open as rapidly as possible. The way to do that is let’s take care of the medical side of this immediately,” the former vice president said. He said he has no symptoms and hasn’t been tested for Covid-19. When he coughed into his hand, Tapper pointed out he should be coughing into his elbow.

This is not necessarily a partisan divide: Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 House Republican, is firmly in the shutdown camp.

“There will be no normally functioning economy if our hospitals are overwhelmed and thousands of Americans of all ages, including our doctors and nurses, lay dying because we have failed to do what’s necessary to stop the virus,” Cheney wrote on Twitter.

Fight brewing. How to end restrictions: Since the federal government has relied so much on states, one wonders if Trump would even be able to open the country.

That’s a disagreement we’re seeing in many ways. The Georgia governor has not issued strict stay-in-place orders, instead giving guidance to high-risk communities. Atlanta’s mayor has issued a shelter-in-place order.

Take schools. All but four states have closed all their schools at the moment. Of those four, many districts are closed. Two states have already closed their schools for the year.

This suggests the states will continue to make their own way. However, if Trump is encouraging federal workers, say, to return to work but there is a statewide stay-in-place order – 17 states representing 40% of the population have them – should the federal workers go to work?

The framing

Notion-mongering – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi talked to CNN’s Dana Bash about the stimulus and about how and when we should start talking about going to work. “I respect the office but I am too busy to read his tweets,” she said, saying the President was “notion-mongering.”

Trump says he’s not sidelining Dr. Anthony Fauci – “We get along very well,” the President said during a Fox News virtual town hall. “I think it’s very good,” he said of his relationship with the nation’s top infectious disease expert. “You would have heard about it if it wasn’t.”

In an interview with Science published Monday, Fauci talked about the difficulty of fact-checking Trump in real time at briefings.

“I can’t jump in front of the microphone and push him down,” Fauci said in the interview. He did not attend the next White House briefing.

Why stock buybacks are so aggravating in companies asking for bailouts

I did not understand until I read this piece by CNN’s Matt Egan and Chris Isidore how aggravating it is that companies that have spent years and billions in profits (and money they saved from massive corporate tax cuts) are now asking for bailouts. Not much frustrates both Elizabeth Warren and Donald Trump. This does. Although, Trump’s tax cut law helped trigger buyback season.

What else

In Spain, they’ve turned an ice rink into a morgue.

In Italy, there is some cautious hope that they are finally in a downswing.

India is now on lockdown.

The Olympics have been delayed until 2021.