Day: March 30, 2020

Background Briefing: March 30, 2020


The False Choice Between Saving Lives and Saving Livelihoods

We begin with the false choice which President Trump and conservatives like the Lieutenant Governor of Texas have been offering between saving lives and saving livelihoods and speak with Dr. Rachel Werner, the Executive Director of the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics and a Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania who is also a Professor of Health Care Management at the Wharton School and a practicing physician at the Philadelphia VA. She joins us to discuss the projection by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that if no action is taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, 160 million to 214 million Americans will become infected and as many as 1.7 million will die. Now, in effect, the Trump administration is declaring victory by saying that by extending the shutdowns and stay-at-home restrictions until the end of April only 200,000 Americans will die. Meanwhile the economy is expected to contract by 25% in the second quarter with a loss of 14 million jobs, in what is shaping up as the worst economic conditions since the great depression.  But if we were to follow the advice of a number of Republican politicians and Jerry Falwell Jr. who is keeping Liberty University open, who are calling for an easing of restrictions, damage to the economy will only worsen as the disease spreads. So getting the virus under control is not only the best thing for humanity. it’s also the best way to restart the economy.


The Need for a Multi-State Solution to Enable Voting by Mail

Then we speak with Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University and the author of the forthcoming book Burning Down the House: Newt Gingrich, the Fall of the Speaker, and the Rise of the New Republican Party who has an article at CNN “How to protect the 2020 elections from the coronavirus crisis”.  With the country and the world in the grip of a worsening health and economic crisis, it is impossible to predict what things will look like on election day in November. But if we are to avoid the low turnout during the 1918 flu pandemic, there has to be a multi-state solution to enable voting by mail.

Venezuela’s Opposition Leader’s Call to Form an Emergency Government

Then finally we get an update on conditions in Venezuela where the spread of the coronavirus is poised to ravage a country whose healthcare system is already in ruin. Following the Trump administration’s placement of a $15 million bounty on the head of the disputed President Maduro, we discuss the call by the opposition leader Juan Guiado who 50 countries recognize as the legitimate head of state, to form an emergency government in order to get foreign aid because as Guaido argues, “nobody will lend money to a drug trafficker”. Alejandro Velasco, a professor at New York University and a historian of Modern Latin America who is the author of Barrio Rising: Urban Popular Politics. and the Making of Modern Venezuela, joins us.