Fauci Paints a Dire Picture

Trump taunts, Fauci frets and Biden finds some common ground with climate activists. It’s Tuesday, and this is your politics tip sheet. Sign up here to get On Politics in your inbox every weekday.

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, again expressed alarm at the increasing rate of coronavirus infections in the United States. After the country tallied more than 50,000 new daily cases on three consecutive days at the end of last week, Fauci said in an N.I.H. livestream yesterday that Americans were facing “a serious situation that we have to address immediately.”

  • He compared the United States’ response unfavorably to that of European countries. “We went up, never came down to baseline, and now it’s surging back up,” he said, whereas European countries are seeing only “blips” as they move to reopen.

  • The Trump administration has declined to institute a comprehensive national framework for disseminating virus tests, and some hard-hit states are unable to meet the demand for testing amid the surge in cases. A site in New Orleans ran out of tests just minutes after opening yesterday morning, and in other parts of the country, people waited in line for hours — sometimes in 100-degree heat — to receive tests.

  • As cases rise, many states are reversing their reopening plans. In Mississippi, where a number of state legislators recently tested positive for the virus and nearly every county has had a rise in cases, the governor has paused the reopening process. In Florida, the rate of new cases has increased tenfold in just a few weeks; yesterday, the mayor of Miami-Dade County announced he would again require restaurants to shut down in-person dining and gyms to close.

  • Newly public federal data acquired by The New York Times sheds light on how racially unequal the coronavirus’s effects have been. Black and Latino residents of the United States have been three times as likely as white people to become infected, according to the new data, and twice as likely to be killed by the virus. The disparities hold across state lines and regions.

  • In his latest attempt to stoke white fear ahead of the November election, President Trump yesterday faulted NASCAR for banning the Confederate flag at its events; attacked a Black racecar driver who has trumpeted his support for Black Lives Matter; and denounced as “politically correct” two sports teams — the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Indians — that are considering changing their Native American-themed names.

  • The NASCAR driver, Bubba Wallace, reported last month that a member of his racing team had found a noose hanging in his garage stall; F.B.I. officials later found that the rope had been tied into the knot months earlier, suggesting that it was not done to specifically intimidate Wallace. Still, there is no evidence to support Trump’s claim — which he made on Twitter yesterday — that Wallace had knowingly misled anyone.

  • “Has @BubbaWallace apologized to all of those great NASCAR drivers & officials who came to his aid, stood by his side, & were willing to sacrifice everything for him, only to find out that the whole thing was just another HOAX? That & Flag decision has caused lowest ratings EVER!” Trump posted on Twitter. Hours later, he put up a separate post blasting the Redskins and Indians franchises for considering retiring their team names.

  • Trump now finds himself pitted against some top members of his own party, as well as the foes he labels “politically correct.” Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina senator, said yesterday on Fox News, “I don’t think Bubba Wallace has anything to apologize for.”

  • Asked by a CNN reporter about NASCAR’s decision to ban the Confederate flag, Graham said it made sense to him. “I’ve lived in South Carolina all my life and if you’re in business, the Confederate flag is not a good way to grow your business,” he said.

  • Last week, the Republican governor of Mississippi signed a law to retire the state’s flag, which had been the last in the country to include the Confederate stars and bars.

  • Eight high-level lobbyists and other political operatives tied to lobbying firms are currently working for Trump’s re-election campaign in a range of capacities, including fund-raising and strategy, according to a New York Times investigation.

  • All together, those lobbyists had been paid nearly $120 million through their firms to influence the United States government since Trump took office.

  • The Trump administration has resisted calls for transparency when it comes to the small-business loan program set up under coronavirus relief legislation — even going so far as to fire the regulator responsible for overseeing the program. But yesterday, yielding to pressure, the White House released data showing which businesses had received loans of $150,000 or more under the Paycheck Protection Program.

  • The data showed that restaurants, medical offices and car dealerships were among the most frequent loan recipients. But the beneficiaries also included a number of businesses likely to raise watchdogs’ eyebrows. Among them were Washington lobbying firms, high-priced law offices and special-interest groups, as well as a fancy sushi restaurant at the Trump International Hotel in Washington and Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz.

  • The Electoral College is not exactly a paragon of representative democracy — but it got a little bit less unrepresentative yesterday. The Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling saying that states are allowed to penalize their representatives in the Electoral College if they refuse to support the candidate they originally committed to backing. Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia require electors to vote as they had originally promised.

  • So-called faithless electors have been distinctly rare throughout American history, but in 2016 a relatively high number of electors went rogue: seven, out of 538 in all. Their reasons varied.

  • Three electors from Washington State cast their votes for Colin Powell, rather than Hillary Clinton, in an effort to persuade others from Trump-supporting states to do the same. Their hope was that this could prevent either candidate from reaching 270 votes. But Washington law stipulates that these electors can be fined, and last year the Washington State Supreme Court upheld fines of $1,000 for each rogue elector.

Credit…Callaghan O’Hare for The New York Times

A man was tested for the coronavirus at a site in Houston yesterday. Cases continue to rise in Texas.


Joe Biden’s more liberal opponents spent months questioning his commitment to tackling climate change. Now, though, it appears some Democratic Party unity on the issue is emerging.

As my colleague Katie Glueck and I reported yesterday, a task force that was created to help shape Biden’s climate policies — which was made up of four people chosen by the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and four chosen by his former chief rival, Senator Bernie Sanders — recently finalized its recommendations. The group has asked Biden to embrace some key targets, like 100 percent clean electricity by 2035, a rapid transition to energy-efficient buildings, and an immediate effort to impose new vehicle emissions rules.

Those goals are important substantively, because a major criticism of Biden’s plan was that its chief goal — achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 — lacked a specific blueprint for getting there or near-term benchmarks. Perhaps just as crucial, task force members from both wings of the party said they had come away from the six-week process feeling hopeful about the future.

“You know, I think from the progressive wing of the party, when these task forces were first announced, there was a healthy degree of skepticism, right?” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, a co-chair of the climate task force, told me when we spoke on Capitol Hill last week. “You know, is this just for show or is this something real?”

She said she had been pleasantly surprised to find ideas from across the political spectrum discussed in good faith, and said she believed the task force had made “meaningful progress.”

Representative Don McEachin of Virginia, a Biden ally who was also on the task force, was more effusive.

“Anybody who is serious about preserving this wonderful jewel that we call the Earth will embrace this plan,” he said.

Notably, embracing the Green New Deal — an ambitious plan to tackle climate change and reshape the economy — was not one of the recommendations, despite the presence on the task force of its strong supporters like Ocasio-Cortez and Varshini Prakash, the executive director of the Sunrise Movement.

But as David Roberts of Vox notes in this excellent overview of a sweeping climate change plan that the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis unveiled recently, significant portions of Democratic plans are starting to resemble the Green New Deal in important ways anyway. These plans have coalesced around clean energy standards, investment in renewable power and linking climate change to racial justice issues — all things the Biden task force also focused on.

Whether the good will ends up lasting will largely depend on what Biden does with the task force recommendations.

For now, though, some common ground appears to have been reached. Ocasio-Cortez said: “I can at least speak to my experience on the climate task force. When I look back to it, it was better to be in that room than not be in that room.”

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