Daily Reformer: The economic and political effects of coronavirus are coming

March 5, 2020 8:33 pm

Time for a Friday dance gif.

With Super Tuesday over we turn our attention to the most important event happening in American politics: COVID-19. The reason I say that is because of its economic effects, which are already massive, and we haven’t even felt the brunt of it yet. 

The Wall Street Journal details how “the carefully calibrated logistics of global shipping” have been upended. It’s a one-two punch: Companies can’t get their imported goods from China to either sell or finish production. And then because of the shortage of container ships from China, the cost of shipping exports like fruit and meats back to China has skyrocketed. 

Container terminals at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which together are the largest U.S. gateway for seaborne trade, are operating at about a third of their normal gate capacity, according to the Harbor Trucking Association.

The airline industry could lose up to $113 billion in revenue this year due to the pandemic, the IATA said in a new forecast. As Seattle has become the American capital of coronavirus, tech companies based there like Amazon and Microsoft are encouraging employees to work from home and cancel non-essential travel. In a report on the threat of recession, Ben Casselman reports “entire cities in Asia and Europe are nearly shut down. Apple, Mastercard, United Airlines and dozens of other companies have warned that the virus will hurt profits.” The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has cut its 2020 growth estimate in half and said it’s not a worst-case scenario. Thursday saw another selloff on Wall Street.  

President Donald Trump’s lying and bungling have thus far been without much political consequence, aside from losing the House in 2018. His party has stuck with him, and as of the Iowa caucus he looked like a decent bet for reelection. 

But that’s largely because the economy has been good. (Like his personal wealth, he inherited it. Other than a brief flash fire from dumping a deficit-financed tax cut on the embers of the good economy he walked into, the economic trends have remained positive but stable since he took office.) 

But this is different. He’s about to absorb both the economic impact of the virus — and the blame for his own mismanagement. (Here’s a tally of everything he’s said about coronavirus since January; it’s a constant series of outright fabrications and distortions.) 

He faces a serious governing challenge, and it’s quite possible Americans will turn away from him as not the man for this job. 

You can imagine the mood of the millions of suburbanites who usually decide elections: The reality show was fun and all, but maybe it’s time to turn off the “Idiot Box” — as my father called the TV when we were kids — and get to work. 

Already his numbers are coming back down after a decent bump post impeachment. 

And remember, all politics is national. As goes Trump, so go down-ballot races, as we saw in 2018. 

State news

Negative real interest rates on 30 year Treasuries; makes sense for our Legislature to do a really big infrastructure bill with borrowed money, aka “bonding bill,” especially to combat the likely economic slowdown. 

Chris Serres reports on the crisis of low-income child care; the state faces potential sanctions from the feds this fall if they up their reimbursements to child care providers.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar asks Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to investigate the Myron Burrell case after an AP investigation found problems with it. And Freeman responded saying they’ve reviewed all the evidence in the case over the past several months, asked the public for new evidence, met with Burrell’s lawyer last month and are now reviewing the case again. 

Gov. Tim Walz is reading books today to a classroom at Jardín Spanish Immersion Academy and then Moreland Academy. 

The tragedy of a gay Republican

Tim Miller, a Republican consultant and columnist for Bulwark but in this case Rolling Stone, writes poignantly about Aaron Schock, who was once a rising star in the Republican Party until he encountered legal problems; he came out as gay Thursday.

He tried an underground prison break. While D.C. is a big town (compared to Peoria), it’s still a small place when it comes to gossip. There were whispers that the new Republican congressman was spotted at a gay bar or was dating a male staffer. So he was quickly pressured by colleagues who had caught wind of the rumors, forced once again into the prison where he had spent his whole life, right after getting the first gasp of air. 

The Onion is America’s leading news source

Sen. Amy Klobuchar should take her appearances in The Onion as a sign of her rising profile, and this one, making light of her rivalry with Pete Buttigieg, is pretty funny: Vindictive Amy Klobuchar Elected Mayor Of South Bend, Indiana

Long week? Feels that way. 

Weekend plans? 50s and low 60s and sunny. Vitamin D! Vitamin D! Vitamin D! 

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Have a great weekend all! 

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