Beltway Insider: Trump Stumps, Stimulus Package, Food Price Spike, China, Jerry Stiller, Election

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President Trump continued his attack on former President Barack Obama, while directly implying to the American people presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden will be an extension of Obama's failed presidency which he called "grossly incompetent."

The President's job approval rating, according to the website, which tracked polls of likely or registered voters for the period ending May 17, 2020, increased by .06% to 44.0% of those polled who approve of his effectiveness as President and those who disapprove of his effectiveness increased by 1.6 percentage points to 51.7%. A slight 3% of the population polled have no opinion. Ratings are calculated weekly.

Beltway Insider: Trump’s Challenges, COVID-19, Jobs/Economy, GOP Convention, GA Murder, Bridgegate, Deaths

President Trump Challenges Obama Presidency Continues COVID-19 Fight

President Trump continued to shore up the Strategic National Medical Stockpile depleted by coronavirus and began increasing his attacks on Democratic Presidential challenger Biden by attacking the Obama presidency, as he gears up for his re-election campaign.

"Our goal for the future must be to have American medicine for American patients, American supplies for American hospitals, and American equipment for our great American heroes," President Trump said.

Hitting The Obama Presidency

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany made twenty-eight references to policies and procedures from the Obama era administration during a recent press conference specifically the pandemic operating procedures manual and the stockpile of PPE.

"I should redirect your question to President Obama, who left the Stockpile empty.  And there was a USA Today fact check of that.  He left the cupboards bare, as the President noted.  And USA Today said there's no indication that the Obama administration took significant steps to replenish the supply of N95 masks in the Strategic National Stockpile after it was depleted from repeated crises. So, at H1N1, it was full; at the end of H1N1, it was empty.  And President Obama left it empty, and it took President Trump to refill it," White House Press Secretary McEnany said in a recent press conference.

President Trump Steps Back from China

President Trump is stepping back from furthering his administrations relationship with China after the success of Phase 1 of the US-China Trade Deal, which they agreed to purchase $250B dollars of US goods. The failure of transparency by the Chinese government with respect to the response to the Coronavirus has dampened the relationship.

"He's very frustrated with China.  China slow-walked this, I've shared with you guys before, on human-to-human transmission.  It was really important that the world knew of that aspect of the disease, but that information was slow-walked through the WHO.  The genetic sequencing, likewise, was not given until a professor in Shanghai did so on his own. These decisions put American lives at risk — not just American lives but lives around the globe.  We know that this disease came from China," said White House Press Secretary McEnany.

COVID-19 Numbers

The infection rates of the coronavirus have continued to rise around the world. With a weekly increase of 86,827 cases the total of confirmed cases worldwide increases to 4.69M, and 313K deaths, an increase of 4,936. Across the United States an increase of 24,527 cases brought the total confirmed cases to 1.52M with 89,785 total deaths a weekly increase of 1,231.

House Passes Second Stimulus Package

The House passed an additional stimulus package, the HEROES Act, the fourth which has been enacted during this unprecedented season which if it becomes law, as it must pass the Republican held senate and then be signed into law, it will provide additional stimulus to the American people, including special provision for essential workers including hospitality workers, grocery store cashiers, EMT's, and other employees who have direct person-to-person contact during this time.

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The President and Republican leaders, who deemed the bill "dead on arrival" have already began to zero in on areas such as providing undocumented workers the stimulus check most Americans received during the first stimulus payment.

Essential Worker By Government Recognition

Farm workers, many undocumented have now become the face of front line essential workers, are continuing to pick fruit and vegetables ensuring the produces is available to communities and live with the possibility of deportation.

The US Immigration and Customs agency adjusted its focus to the most severe cases and began working with employers of farm workers. Employers of undocumented farm workers have now been deemed "essential by the Department of Homeland Security, and considers [the workers] critical to the food supply chain," reported the New York Times.

The Economy and The Election will Drive or Derail the Package

"Right now, the economy continues to struggle badly. More than 36 million new jobless claims have been filed in eight weeks, and we are in a recession that is arguably headed to a depression. The most recent unemployment rate was reported as 14.7%, but many experts acknowledge that unemployment is really around 25%. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin admitted on Fox News Sunday that "real" unemployment is much higher than 14.7% before agreeing that it's probably really 25% and that things would get worse before getting better," Forbes reported.

New York Stock Exchange Plans Reopening

NYSE President Stacey Cunningham announced the New York Stock exchange will reopen May 26, the day after Memorial Day, with some limitation.

Broadway Goes Dark Indefinitely

New York's famed White Way has announced it will go dark at least through September, with a solid reopening date still to be determined.

Coronavirus Wields Heavy Blow Across Retail Industry

JC Penny, one of America's oldest retailers following in the steps of Barneys New York, Neiman Marcus, J.Crew and True Religion, filed for Chapter 11 Protection this week marking an end to a century old department store.

Burdened by insurmountable debt, the brick and mortar retailer became one of more than a dozen companies dealt the death blow by the COVID-19 pandemic in the last five months as consumers retreat to online options.

The coronavirus has changed the face of both the retail and restaurant industry with more major companies filing for Chapter 11 protection or Bankruptcy.

The Papyrus Company, owned by The Schurman Retail Group, filed in January prior to any preventative closings.

Lucky's Market, an organic supermarket chain with 39 stores, also filed in January. Earth Fare, also and organic grocer, with 50 stores filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, in February.

Pier 1 Imports, with more than 450 stores, filed for protected in February. Art Van Furniture, a local home furnishing store located in the Great Lakes region.

Modell's Sporting Goods filed for bankruptcy in March and will liquidate the remaining 150 stores under the agreement.

FoodFirst Global Restaurants, an Italian restaurant chain filed for Chapter 11 on April 10, closing 71 of its 92 stores. Event provider, Noah's Event Venue, with 42 locations across 25 states, filed for bankruptcy February.

Forward fashion retailer True Religion filed for protection on April 13. J. Crew filed May 4, Neiman Marcus filed May 7, Stage Stores, the parent company of five other southern department store chains, filed bankruptcy on May 10, 2020.

Gaming, another industry, less well known and far more lucrative, has also taken a major hit. The Casino industry, in an statement dated March 19, 2020, said "The American Gaming Association (AGA) found that if casinos stay closed for the next eight weeks, it will cost the U.S. economy $21.3 billion in direct consumer spending, according a report released on Wednesday," The Hill reported.

It has been eight weeks since that initial report was made. Each week the industry remains closed and additional $2.6B of discretionary spending is lost.

Legalized sports betting "helped propel U.S. casinos to a record year, with gaming revenue rising 3.5% from 2017 to $41.68 billion, according to the American Gaming Association," according to CNBC.

And on the flip side Illegal Sports Betting, one of the biggest revenue generators has taken a serious hit during the COVID-19 crisis, essentially shutting down the nearly $150 billion dollar industry.

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Food Prices See Sharpest Spike in Decades

Food prices in April saw their biggest jump in nearly fifty years with grocery stores reporting a major across the board spike as many believe the strain of preventative closures, from restaurants to schools, is causing the food supply chain to break.

"Prices Americans paid for eggs, meat, cereal and milk shot higher in April as people flocked to grocery stores to stock up on food amid government lockdowns designed to slow the spread of Covid-19. The Labor Department reported Tuesday that prices U.S. consumers paid for groceries jumped 2.6% in April, the largest one-month pop since February 1974. The price of the meats, poultry, fish, and eggs category rose 4.3%, fruits and vegetables climbed 1.5%, cereals and bakery products advanced 2.9%, and dairy goods gained 1.5%," CNBC reported.

The strain in the food chain has many working parts and two major divisions, retail and food services. Retail, a $674 billion dollar industry, is simply grocery store sales. The Food Service Industry, a $731 billion dollar industry, represents sales from restaurants, schools, hospitals, universities, institutional food service facilities, fast food chains, hotels, catering, or food away from home.

With these two divisions both experiencing rapid and dramatic changes in consumption, as much of the nation was under some sort of restriction and more dense populations still remaining under restrictions, restaurant's usually serviced have been closed which should translate to a glut in the market. The secondary factor remains everyday consumer buying and consumer panic buying and the system that separates the two divisions.

"The issue is processors who primarily supply to food service buyers simply don't have the infrastructure to quickly pivot to retail. "If you have a factory that was set up to produce sour cream to sell at Mexican restaurants, you can't just decide that tomorrow you're gonna produce ice cream and send it to the grocery store," says Christopher Wolf, a Cornell economist who specializes in dairy," reported

Over the first two weeks of May, listed a series of closures, shut downs and reopening's across much of the mid-west as many of the nation's top food producers have reopened the facilities at various capacities.

Plant procession closures, slow down's result in consumer shortages, and trigger panic buying. The virus had had two waves of panic buying, the initial wave in March which resulted in bare shelves everywhere and the secondary wave, which is triggered by widescale announcements of shortages.

Food services providers are experiencing conditions which have not been felt for some throughout their entire career. Many are dumping milk or told to reduce production.

Tyson Foodservice will donate $5 for every social media post tagged with #TheGreatAmericanTakeout and #EverydayHero up to $25,000, to the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund.

Funnyman Jerry Stiller Remembered

Comedian Jerry Stiller, a consummate New Yorker who used his Jewish heritage and Brooklyn upbringing as foundation for two of his most known comedic roles, died this week. He was 92.

Stiller, a classically trained actor, found fame in the arts twice over, with a reemergence in the 1990s as Frank Costanza on the sitcom Seinfeld, and again as Arthur Spooner, in The King of Queens. He embodied these roles with a memorable and enduring quality.

Father to actor Ben Stiller and Amy Stiller and husband of 60 years to Ann Meara, the two formed Stiller & Meara and took their brand of comedy on the road. In addition to his success as a comedian and actor, Stiller also authored a memoir titled "Married to Laughter: A Love Story Featuring Anne Meara."

The Coronavirus Pandemic Exposes Frailties in the Medical Ecosystem

Election: Presidential Candidates Show a Kinder, Gentler Campaign Approach, GOP Takes CA Seat

In any other Presidential election season, May would be the ramp up to the summer stumping season, with events planned throughout the nation all leading to the national conventions, and the week long parade of party stalwarts each pitching to the American people the reasons why the candidates who earned the delegates through the primary season should be your next president.

This general election, of course, is not business as usual. The Coronavirus pandemic has upended the political process. New York, the epicenter of the pandemic, which postponed the June rescheduled primary, has been ordered the state to hold the Presidential primary in June 23, 2020.

"Fifteen other states and two territories — Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, West Virginia and Wyoming, and Guam and Puerto Rico — have either pushed back their presidential primaries or switched to voting by mail with extended deadlines," reported The New York Times.

As the calendar goes the two candidates, Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden and Republican President Donald Trump, with barely a sparring match between them, will take their titles at the upcoming conventions scheduled for August.

GOP Takes Congressional Seat in Special Election

Democrat Christy Smith conceded the special election race for California's 25th Congressional District to Republican Mike Garcia on Wednesday, marking the first time Republicans will retake a congressional seat held by a Democrat in the state since 1998.

Rep. Katie Hill who resigned after admitting to improprieties with staffers previously held the seat. The general election in November will determine if the seat Garcia will continue to hold the seat for a full term.

For more information on President Donald Trump

Sources: Various © Articles covered by Copyright protection

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