Background Briefing: March 19, 2020


Today’s GOP as the “White Grievance Party” in Which “Race Is the Original Sin”

We begin with Trump’s continuing use of racist dog whistles in referring to the “Chinese virus” which may be a tactic on his part to distract us and change the conversation away from his administration’s bungled response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  In an article at The New York Times “How Racist is Trump’s Republican Party?“, Thomas Edsall writes about the new book by the veteran Republican strategist Stuart Stevens It Was All A Lie which argues Trump is the culmination of a trend started by Goldwater then accelerated by Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” which has resulted in the GOP becoming what Stevens calls the “white grievance party” in which “race is the original sin” of today’s Republican Party. Joining us to discuss why Trump is doubling down of racism is Ian Haney Lopez, the Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley and author of Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class, whose latest book is Merge Left: Fusing Race and Class, Winning Elections, and Saving America.  We discuss whether the current pandemic which is expected to get worse will put a dent in the GOP’s strategy of dividing race and class to the benefit of the billionaire class and whether the majority of Americans facing a common threat might begin to realize how much they have in common and will unite to bring more racial justice and economic equality for all of us, not just the 1%.


A Leading Economist on Whether the Recession We Are Entering Will Become a Depression

Then we speak with Robert Johnson, the Executive Director of the Institute for New Economic Thinking who was Chief Economist for the U.S. Senate Banking Committee and the U.S. Senate Budget Committee. He joins us to discuss whether the recession we are entering could end up as a depression and what measures are needed to take care of the majority of Americans facing unemployment without a social safety net. And as Wall Street is being rescued as they were in 2008 with the Fed unleashing $1.5 trillion in repurchase agreements, commercial paper for short term loans to banks, hedge funds and corporations, average Americans cannot go to their bank and get a short-term loan to survive the looming household financial crisis in Main Street USA.

Our Wartime President Throws out More Empty Promises

Then finally we examine Wednesday’s declaration by Donald Trump that he is a wartime president because he enacted the National Defense Production Act from the Korean War era and speak with Katrina Mulligan who served as an attorney advisor and director for preparedness and response in the National Security Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. She is familiar with the Defense Production Act which is late in being invoked to meet the critical shortages of medical equipment at the same time the Trump administration has yet to designate who is being tasked to manufacture what while the Navy hospital ships Trump promised will not be ready for a number of weeks.