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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 51)

In Rarity, a Top Coronavirus Official Is an Obama Appointee Working for Trump

Westlake Legal Group 06dc-birx-facebookJumbo In Rarity, a Top Coronavirus Official Is an Obama Appointee Working for Trump United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Birx, Deborah L Appointments and Executive Changes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome

WASHINGTON — In the spring of 1983, even before the virus that causes AIDS had a name, a young Army doctor named Deborah L. Birx suffered excessive bleeding while giving birth. Moments before she passed out from pain, she screamed an order at her husband: “Do not let them give me blood!”

She may have saved her own life. The blood she would have received was later discovered to be contaminated with H.I.V.

“That was Debbie’s first brush with AIDS, and it literally changed her,” John Kerry, then the secretary of state, said in 2014, after President Barack Obama put Dr. Birx in charge of addressing the global AIDS epidemic. “It made her think hard not just about the perils of this new disease, but about her responsibility to fight it.”

Now, after researching H.I.V. and devising public health strategies to combat it for more than three decades, Dr. Birx has a new virus to fight. As President Trump’s newly named White House coronavirus response coordinator, she has the difficult task of tracking and orchestrating the government’s effort to contain the outbreak, while projecting a calm, authoritative presence to counter the mixed messages from Mr. Trump.

Vice President Mike Pence, who is overseeing the government’s response, introduced her as “my right arm.”

Public health experts say her task is immense.

“There are lots of things that can go wrong here,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, who worked with Dr. Birx when he ran the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and she oversaw the C.D.C.’s division of global AIDS. “It’s possible that we’ll look back in six months and say, ‘It’s not so bad, we overreacted.’ We just don’t know. But we wouldn’t want to look back in six months and say we underreacted.”

Unlike Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, another member of the coronavirus task force and the oft-quoted director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Birx — who carried the rank of ambassador at the State Department — is stepping gingerly into the public eye. She has taken pains not to contradict the president, praising the White House for its “energy and efficiency.”

Get an informed guide to the global outbreak with our daily coronavirus newsletter.

That kind of political savvy helps explain why Dr. Birx is one of only a handful of Obama political appointees who is still working for the Trump administration. (Another is Dr. Francis S. Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health.)

“Thank God she’s in charge,” said Katy Talento, a former health policy adviser to Mr. Trump.

Dr. Birx faces multiple challenges, Dr. Frieden said. She must quickly gather information about the virus and how it is spreading to adjust the government’s response. She must ensure that decisions are “based on science rather than on political considerations,” he said. And she must “engage globally,” he said, “so we can tamp down the size of the pandemic in other countries.”

She has deep relationships with health officials around the world, Dr. Frieden said, but she is less familiar with the public health system in this country.

Tough and disciplined — she walks several miles to work each day to “clear her head,” one associate said — Dr. Birx is most often described as “data driven.” She is running what amounts to a coronavirus war room from the vice president’s office, meeting with government and public health officials and pharmaceutical industry executives to shore up beleaguered local health departments, scale up the production of coronavirus test kits and encourage research into antiviral medicines and vaccines.

“I think this administration is realizing that her credibility and the years of sweat equity and trust she has built up working with people on both sides of the aisle is arguably her best asset,” said Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon.

For the past six years at the State Department, Dr. Birx has, among her responsibilities, overseen the Presidents’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, created in 2003 by President George W. Bush when antiretroviral drugs saving lives in developed countries were not available in other nations.

In its first decade, the initiative focused on “priority countries,” offering broad public health programs to slow the spread of H.I.V., said Paul Zeitz, who worked for Dr. Birx for three years.

Dr. Birx, he said, concluded that it would be more effective to concentrate specifically on H.I.V. prevention and the treatment of infected people in areas where the epidemic was disseminating swiftly. She made difficult decisions to take money from “low transmission zones” and beef up spending in areas where the disease was spreading rapidly, using statistics as a guide.

“I saw her be very tough with country teams,” Dr. Zeitz said. “She wanted the facts about exactly what was happening with their epidemic, and if people did not have data in a way that it could be used, where it could be disaggregated by gender, by geography — and then she got all the way down to statistics for each medical clinic — they would have to go back to the drawing board.”

Dr. Birx also created a program known as DREAMS, a public-private partnership to reduce rates of H.I.V. among adolescent girls and young women. That demographic accounts for 74 percent of new H.I.V. infections among adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa, where the disease is most prevalent.

She was particularly outraged at the high rates of infections resulting from sexual assault, which was rarely reported, Ms. Talento said. She started working with churches to encourage young women to speak up.

“She was jumping around, waving her arms, ‘Listen, young women are suffering scandalously high rates of sexual assault,’” Ms. Talento said. “She would brainstorm and kick things around: What if we started ranking countries on how well they prosecute this, and tie the money to those rankings?”

Dr. Birx, a colonel in the Army, began her career in the early 1980s as an immunologist at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. She spent part of her training as a fellow in Dr. Fauci’s lab, and “was a star then,” he recently told reporters, adding, “and what has happened over the years, she’s become a superstar.”

With the military committed to reducing the spread of H.I.V. in its own ranks, Dr. Birx was on the cutting edge of research. Shepherd Smith, an evangelical Christian leader and a founder of Children’s AIDS Fund International, said Dr. Birx and her colleagues at the Defense Department sometimes spotted epidemiological trends even before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“She had an early view of the epidemic that a lot of people in the AIDS issue didn’t have,” he said. “Between 1985 and 1988, the number of H.I.V.-positive African-American women in the military was greater than white men, so there were indicators where this epidemic was going.”

In 2005, Dr. Birx moved to the C.D.C., where she remained until Mr. Obama appointed her to the State Department. Eric Goosby, Dr. Birx’s predecessor at the State Department, said she was somewhat reluctant to leave her diplomatic post. The two spoke before she accepted Mr. Pence’s offer.

”The responsibility she carried involves hundreds of thousands of lives,” he said, adding that for Dr. Birx, it was a question of whether to “move away from something where you know you are dropping suffering and dropping death, to work on something that has the potential to be devastating but isn’t there yet.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Judge Calls Barr’s Handling of Mueller Report ‘Distorted’ and ‘Misleading’

Westlake Legal Group 05dc-mueller-facebookJumbo Judge Calls Barr’s Handling of Mueller Report ‘Distorted’ and ‘Misleading’ Walton, Reggie B United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Mueller, Robert S III Justice Department Freedom of Information Act Electronic Privacy Information Center BuzzFeed Inc Barr, William P Attorneys General

WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Thursday sharply criticized Attorney General William P. Barr’s handling of the report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, saying that Mr. Barr put forward a “distorted” and “misleading” account of its findings and lacked credibility on the topic.

Mr. Barr could not be trusted, Judge Reggie B. Walton said, citing “inconsistencies” between the attorney general’s statements about the report when it was secret and its actual contents that turned out to be more damaging to President Trump. Mr. Barr’s “lack of candor” called into question his “credibility and, in turn, the department’s” assurances to the court, Judge Walton said.

The judge ordered the Justice Department to privately show him the portions of the report that were censored in the publicly released version so he could independently verify the justifications for those redactions. The ruling came in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking a full-text version of the report.

The differences between the report and Mr. Barr’s description of it “cause the court to seriously question whether Attorney General Barr made a calculated attempt to influence public discourse about the Mueller report in favor of President Trump despite certain findings in the redacted version of the Mueller report to the contrary,” wrote Judge Walton, an appointee of President George W. Bush.

Mr. Barr’s public rollout of the Mueller report has been widely criticized. Still, it was striking to see a Republican-appointed federal judge scathingly dissect Mr. Barr’s conduct in a formal judicial ruling and declare that the sitting attorney general had so deceived the American people that he could not trust assertions made by a Justice Department under Mr. Barr’s control.

A department spokeswoman had no immediate comment. The lawsuit centers on Freedom of Information requests by the Electronic Privacy Information Center and by Jason Leopold, a BuzzFeed News reporter.

Judge Walton’s decision focuses on the period last spring between the delivery of the Mueller report to the attorney general, his publicly issued summary of it two days later that drew widespread condemnation and the release of the report itself a month later that revealed several discrepancies between the documents.

Among those Judge Walton cited: Mr. Barr’s obfuscation about the scope of the links that investigators found between the Trump campaign and Russia, and how the report documented numerous episodes that appear to meet the criteria for obstruction of justice, echoing the complaints of many critics of Mr. Barr’s summary of the report.

The attorney general issued an initial four-page letter in March 2019 — two days after receiving the 381-page Mueller report — that purported to summarize its principal conclusions. But within days, Mr. Mueller sent letters to Mr. Barr protesting that he had distorted its findings and asking him to swiftly release the report’s own summaries. Instead, Mr. Barr made the report public only weeks later, after a fuller review to black out sensitive material.

Among the issues Judge Walton flagged: Mr. Barr declared that the special counsel had not found that the Trump campaign had conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, and left it at that.

But while Mr. Mueller did conclude that he found insufficient evidence to charge any Trump associates with conspiring with the Russians, Mr. Barr omitted that the special counsel had identified multiple contacts between Trump campaign officials and people with ties to the Russian government and that the campaign expected to benefit from Moscow’s interference.

Judge Walton also wrote that the special counsel “only concluded” that the investigation did not establish that the contacts rose to “coordination” because Mr. Mueller interpreted that term narrowly, requiring, in the report’s words, agreement that is “more than the two parties taking actions that were informed by or responsive to the other’s actions or interests.”

In addition, Mr. Barr told the public in March that Mr. Mueller had made no decision about whether the president obstructed justice, then pronounced Mr. Trump cleared of those suspicions.

But Mr. Barr “failed to disclose to the American public,” Judge Walton wrote, that Mr. Mueller had explained that it would be inappropriate to make a judgment while the president was still in office about whether he committed obstruction crimes. The report also said that if the evidence had cleared Mr. Trump, Mr. Mueller would have said so, but he was unable to exonerate him.

“The speed by which Attorney General Barr released to the public the summary of Special Counsel Mueller’s principal conclusions, coupled with the fact that Attorney General Barr failed to provide a thorough representation of the findings set forth in the Mueller report, causes the court to question whether Attorney General Barr’s intent was to create a one-sided narrative about the Mueller report — a narrative that is clearly in some respects substantively at odds with the redacted version of the Mueller report,” Judge Walton wrote.

The judge also blasted similar “inconsistencies” in public comments made by Mr. Barr hours before he released the redacted version of the report in April.

Because of that pattern, Judge Walton wrote, he could not look away from the fact that the portions of the Mueller report that the Justice Department was withholding in the Freedom of Information Act case mirrored the deletions made under Mr. Barr’s guidance in the version of the report released in April.

That echoing, he wrote, causes “the court to question whether the redactions are self-serving and were made to support, or at the very least to not undermine, Attorney General Barr’s public statements and whether the department engaged in post-hoc rationalization to justify Attorney General Barr’s positions.”

Appointed to the Federal District Court bench in Washington in 2001, Judge Walton has presided over a variety of high-profile cases, including the perjury trial of the former baseball pitcher Roger Clemens and the trial of I. Lewis Libby Jr., the onetime chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney who was convicted of lying in connection with the leak of the identity of a C.I.A. operative. Mr. Trump pardoned Mr. Libby in 2018.

A former prosecutor who handled drug and street crime cases, Judge Walton is known for handing down tough sentences and for being careful and methodical. He also once broke up a street brawl near the courthouse.

The Mueller ruling was not the first time that Judge Walton had criticized the actions of the Barr Justice Department. Last month, he unsealed the transcript of a September closed-door meeting with prosecutors about whether and when the department was going to charge Andrew G. McCabe, the former acting F.B.I. director whom Mr. Trump has vilified for his role in the Russia case, in connection with a leak investigation.

Noting in that September hearing that prosecutors had said to him weeks earlier that a decision about charging Mr. McCabe could come “literally within days,” Judge Walton chastised them for stringing along Mr. McCabe and noted the president’s comments about Mr. McCabe with disapproval, saying they created the appearance of a “banana republic.”

“I don’t think people like the fact that you got somebody at the top basically trying to dictate whether somebody should be prosecuted,” the judge said, adding that even if Mr. Trump’s moves were “not influencing the ultimate decision, I think there are a lot of people on the outside who perceive that there is undue, inappropriate pressure being brought to bear.”

Nevertheless, the Justice Department continued to keep Mr. McCabe hanging for another five months, announcing only last month that he would not be charged. Hours later, Judge Walton unsealed the transcript of the closed September hearing, which was part of a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed by the liberal watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

Adam Goldman contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Facebook Removes Misleading Trump Census Ads

Westlake Legal Group 05facebook-facebookJumbo Facebook Removes Misleading Trump Census Ads Trump, Donald J Rumors and Misinformation Presidential Election of 2020 Population Political Advertising Facebook Inc census bureau census

WASHINGTON — Facebook said on Thursday that it had removed misleading ads run by President Trump’s re-election campaign about the 2020 census, in a stand against disinformation ahead of the decennial population count that begins next week.

Earlier this week, Trump Make America Great Again, a joint fund-raising arm of Donald J. Trump for President Inc. and the Republican National Committee, started running ads on the social media site that Facebook said could have caused confusion about the timing of the census.

“President Trump needs you to take the Official 2020 Congressional District Census today. We need to hear from you before the most important election in American history,” the ad said. The campaign asked followers to “respond NOW” to help our campaign messaging strategy, with an appeal to text “TRUMP to 8022.”

The Census Bureau will not begin to survey the public for its population survey until next week. The ad linked the census to the Trump campaign, a misrepresentation of the official government survey, said civil rights groups.

Facebook said the message violated its policy against interference in the census, an important survey and population count used to draw electoral maps. Facebook bars the misrepresentation of dates, locations, times and methods for census participation.

“There are policies in place to prevent confusion around the official U.S. census and this is an example of those being enforced,” Facebook said in a statement.

President Trump’s re-election campaign declined to comment about the ads.

Civil rights groups, which have been warning Facebook about the possibility of disinformation around the census, alerted Facebook to the misleading ads. Vanita Gupta, president of the Leadership Conference Education Fund, said she communicated over email on Thursday morning with Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, and chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg.

Ms. Gupta has warned that the social network could be a target for misinformation on census information, a concern among civil rights leaders, who fear a miscount of the population could affect districting for voters and lead to voter suppression.

“While we’re gratified that Facebook shut down Trump’s attempt to sow confusion about how and when to participate in the 2020 census, it’s disturbing that the ads weren’t immediately removed,” Ms. Gupta said in a statement. “We will continue to hold Facebook accountable to enforce it. Nothing should distract from making sure everyone gets counted.”

This is a developing story. It will be updated.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump’s Economic Cheerleading Is Suddenly Tested

WASHINGTON — One of President Trump’s greatest strengths in his presidential campaign is his economic salesmanship: He has convinced a devoted share of Americans that his leadership has made the U.S. economy bulletproof and that markets would crash if he were defeated in November.

The president’s ability to set the economic narrative is buoyed by an 11-year economic expansion, with rising wages and unemployment at a 50-year low. That strength presents a challenge for the Democrats hoping to unseat him in November — even though Mr. Trump’s cheerleading is often overstated and parts of the economy are slowing, including manufacturing.

That helps explain why Mr. Trump has played down economic damage from the coronavirus and dismissed the stock market plunge: They threaten to undermine the most effective story he tells about his presidency.

“The country is in great shape, the market is in great shape,” Mr. Trump told reporters outside the White House on Tuesday, as stocks tumbled after the Federal Reserve’s rate cut. The S&P 500 ended the day down about 2.8 percent.

Mr. Trump has blamed any growth hiccups on external events, like the Democrats running for president, troubles at the aerospace giant Boeing and the Federal Reserve. He has praised consumers and the economy’s strength, even as forecasters warn that the virus could dampen growth at least temporarily this year.

On Monday, Mr. Trump suggested on Twitter that House Democrats pass a one-year cut in payroll taxes, a form of fiscal stimulus often aimed at boosting consumer spending at times of economic weakness. Yet the president did not concede any economic trouble.

“This is an incredible time for our nation,” he wrote on Twitter. “Jobs are booming, incomes are soaring, poverty is plummeting, confidence is surging.”

That kind of rhetoric has served Mr. Trump well during his first three years in office, helping him win credit — at least among supporters — for what remains a strong economy. But experts warn that it has also helped widen a partisan divide on the economy, which may make it more difficult for Mr. Trump to reassure the public in the event of a crisis, like the spread of coronavirus.

“The aura of the office, where people might have deferred to the message about the state of the economy, I think today that’s gone,” said Shanto Iyengar, a political scientist at Stanford University. “It’s gone because of the hyper-partisanship.”

Americans who tune into Mr. Trump’s messages are far more likely to echo his language on the economy and are more optimistic about it, according to a new nationwide poll conducted last month for The New York Times by the online research firm SurveyMonkey.

Respondents were asked to choose from a list of terms that could describe the state of the economy. Those who said they regularly watched or followed news coverage of Mr. Trump’s speeches were about twice as likely to describe the economy as “booming” or the “best economy ever,” and they were far more likely to express confidence in the economy and give Mr. Trump credit for its condition.

The split persisted among Democrats, independents and even among Republicans. More than eight in 10 Republican voters who regularly follow Mr. Trump’s speeches say Mr. Trump deserves “a lot” of credit for the economy. Only about one in three Republicans who do not regularly follow the speeches said the same.

Will Hicks, a 32-year-old survey respondent in the oil field town of Roosevelt, Utah, said Mr. Trump’s election provided an immediate jolt to people in his area. He credits Mr. Trump and his boosterism for much of that, even though he said the president’s claims were often overstated.

“His viewpoint is all positive, that we’re going to get greater, we’re going to improve our economy,” Mr. Hicks said. “I think that push forward, even though it might be a little bit of an exaggeration, has helped the economy.”

Some economists agree. Robert Shiller, a Nobel Prize-winning economist at Yale, has described Mr. Trump’s cheerleading as the driving force behind the continuation of the now-record economic expansion over the last three years.

In a presentation earlier this year — in which he compared Mr. Trump’s economic messaging to the spread of a pandemic virus — Mr. Shiller reported than 62 percent of newspaper articles that mentioned a “strong economy” from 2017 to 2019 also mentioned Mr. Trump. That’s more than twice the rate of association that President Bill Clinton enjoyed during a stronger economy in the late 1990s.

Mr. Trump “is our first motivational-speaker president,” Mr. Shiller said.

Mr. Trump made grand economic promises a centerpiece of his 2016 campaign, and he reveled in the stock-market surge that followed his victory. Even before he took office, consumer and small-business confidence levels soared, driven largely by Mr. Trump’s Republican supporters. Both measures have remained elevated throughout his term, with sentiment among Republican consumers hitting a record high in February in a long-running survey from the University of Michigan.

But on several measures, the economy has fallen short of the president’s promises. It grew 2.3 percent last year, well below the forecasts of Mr. Trump’s economic team, as the president’s trade war chilled business investment. Economic growth in the first three years of President Barack Obama’s second term was nearly identical to that of Mr. Trump’s first three years. Median wage growth is no higher today than it was in October 2016, and it remains well below the levels of the late 1990s.

Small business owners’ expectations for capital investment now are essentially unchanged from before the 2016 election. Among consumers, the postelection rise in confidence has failed to translate into a sustained improvement in spending, shattering a longstanding relationship. After Mr. Trump’s election, said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, “a gap opened up between the spending and confidence numbers, and that gap has persisted.”

Feeling Good, But Not Acting Like It

President Trump’s election led to a surge in consumer confidence, at least among Republicans. But that hasn’t translated into stronger spending.

Westlake Legal Group 0303-biz-web-TRUMP-NARRATIVE-Artboard_2 Trump’s Economic Cheerleading Is Suddenly Tested Wages and Salaries United States Politics and Government United States Economy United States Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Labor and Jobs Consumer Behavior

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE

CONSUMER SPENDING

University of Michigan

Index of Consumer Sentiment

Year-over-year percentage change in

inflation-adjusted consumer spending

NOV. ’16

NOV. ’16

Trump elected

Trump elected

12-MONTH ROLLING AVERAGE

12-MONTH ROLLING AVERAGE

Westlake Legal Group 0303-biz-web-TRUMP-NARRATIVE-Artboard_3 Trump’s Economic Cheerleading Is Suddenly Tested Wages and Salaries United States Politics and Government United States Economy United States Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Labor and Jobs Consumer Behavior

Consumer confidence

Consumer spending

University of Michigan

Index of Consumer

Sentiment

Year-over-year percentage

change in inflation-adjusted

consumer spending

NOV. ’16

NOV. ’16

Trump elected

Trump elected

12-month rolling avg.

12-month rolling avg.

Sources: Bureau of Economic Analysis (consumer spending); University of Michigan (consumer confidence).

By The New York Times

The confidence gap is driven entirely by asymmetric partisanship, powered by a surge in Republican sentiment. When Mr. Obama was in office, surveys consistently showed that Democrats felt better about the economy than Republicans. When Mr. Trump was elected, the pattern reversed almost overnight, though the surge in Republican optimism was larger than the drop-off among Democrats.

Masha Krupenkin, a Boston College political scientist, said Republicans show bigger swings in economic confidence, and exhibit a similar pattern in surveys that ask about trust in government, depending on which party controls the White House, compared with Democrats.

The Times survey showed Democrats were less optimistic about the economy and less willing to credit Mr. Trump for it than Republicans were. Confidence among independent voters has fallen to a level between that of Democrats and Republicans, but closer to Democrats’, during Mr. Trump’s term. (Optimism among independents surged in January, but came back to earth in February, according to the Times survey.)

Douglas Prasher, a Democratic voter in Prescott Valley, Ariz., said he didn’t buy claims that the economy was doing well — and he didn’t think Mr. Trump deserved credit if it was. Mr. Prasher, 68, recently retired to Arizona from San Diego, which he said had become unaffordable because of sky-high housing costs. His new home state is cheaper, but he has still had to take on a part-time job to make ends meet. He carries hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt from helping his daughters go to college.

“As far as I’m concerned, people are suffering,” Mr. Prasher said. The supposedly strong economy, he said, “seems to only help the wealthy, which we’re not in that category.”

That rhetoric echoes the message of Democratic candidates running for the White House, who frequently claim that the economy is “rigged” or only works for the very rich. Democrats in the Times survey were much more likely to use that phrasing to describe the economy than Mr. Trump’s preferred terms. So were independents, who were six times as likely to call the economy “rigged” or badly broken” as to say it was the “best economy ever.”

Mr. Trump’s aggressive claims — that it is not just strong but “the best ever” — may make him less credible to people not already inclined to support him, said Michele Claibourn, a political scientist at the University of Virginia. “It’s easier to resist as information if it feels exaggerated,” she said.

Ms. Claibourn said presidents have historically tried to distinguish between when they were speaking as party leaders and when they were addressing the public in their official, less partisan, capacity. Those lines have blurred over the decades. Under Mr. Trump, the distinction has disappeared almost entirely, she said.

Jim Tankersley reported from Washington, and Ben Casselman from New York.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump’s Economic Cheerleading Is Suddenly Tested

WASHINGTON — One of President Trump’s greatest strengths in his presidential campaign is his economic salesmanship: He has convinced a devoted share of Americans that his leadership has made the U.S. economy bulletproof and that markets would crash if he were defeated in November.

The president’s ability to set the economic narrative is buoyed by an 11-year economic expansion, with rising wages and unemployment at a 50-year low. That strength presents a challenge for the Democrats hoping to unseat him in November — even though Mr. Trump’s cheerleading is often overstated and parts of the economy are slowing, including manufacturing.

That helps explain why Mr. Trump has played down economic damage from the coronavirus and dismissed the stock market plunge: They threaten to undermine the most effective story he tells about his presidency.

“The country is in great shape, the market is in great shape,” Mr. Trump told reporters outside the White House on Tuesday, as stocks tumbled after the Federal Reserve’s rate cut. The S&P 500 ended the day down about 2.8 percent.

Mr. Trump has blamed any growth hiccups on external events, like the Democrats running for president, troubles at the aerospace giant Boeing and the Federal Reserve. He has praised consumers and the economy’s strength, even as forecasters warn that the virus could dampen growth at least temporarily this year.

On Monday, Mr. Trump suggested on Twitter that House Democrats pass a one-year cut in payroll taxes, a form of fiscal stimulus often aimed at boosting consumer spending at times of economic weakness. Yet the president did not concede any economic trouble.

“This is an incredible time for our nation,” he wrote on Twitter. “Jobs are booming, incomes are soaring, poverty is plummeting, confidence is surging.”

That kind of rhetoric has served Mr. Trump well during his first three years in office, helping him win credit — at least among supporters — for what remains a strong economy. But experts warn that it has also helped widen a partisan divide on the economy, which may make it more difficult for Mr. Trump to reassure the public in the event of a crisis, like the spread of coronavirus.

“The aura of the office, where people might have deferred to the message about the state of the economy, I think today that’s gone,” said Shanto Iyengar, a political scientist at Stanford University. “It’s gone because of the hyper-partisanship.”

Americans who tune into Mr. Trump’s messages are far more likely to echo his language on the economy and are more optimistic about it, according to a new nationwide poll conducted last month for The New York Times by the online research firm SurveyMonkey.

Respondents were asked to choose from a list of terms that could describe the state of the economy. Those who said they regularly watched or followed news coverage of Mr. Trump’s speeches were about twice as likely to describe the economy as “booming” or the “best economy ever,” and they were far more likely to express confidence in the economy and give Mr. Trump credit for its condition.

The split persisted among Democrats, independents and even among Republicans. More than eight in 10 Republican voters who regularly follow Mr. Trump’s speeches say Mr. Trump deserves “a lot” of credit for the economy. Only about one in three Republicans who do not regularly follow the speeches said the same.

Will Hicks, a 32-year-old survey respondent in the oil field town of Roosevelt, Utah, said Mr. Trump’s election provided an immediate jolt to people in his area. He credits Mr. Trump and his boosterism for much of that, even though he said the president’s claims were often overstated.

“His viewpoint is all positive, that we’re going to get greater, we’re going to improve our economy,” Mr. Hicks said. “I think that push forward, even though it might be a little bit of an exaggeration, has helped the economy.”

Some economists agree. Robert Shiller, a Nobel Prize-winning economist at Yale, has described Mr. Trump’s cheerleading as the driving force behind the continuation of the now-record economic expansion over the last three years.

In a presentation earlier this year — in which he compared Mr. Trump’s economic messaging to the spread of a pandemic virus — Mr. Shiller reported than 62 percent of newspaper articles that mentioned a “strong economy” from 2017 to 2019 also mentioned Mr. Trump. That’s more than twice the rate of association that President Bill Clinton enjoyed during a stronger economy in the late 1990s.

Mr. Trump “is our first motivational-speaker president,” Mr. Shiller said.

Mr. Trump made grand economic promises a centerpiece of his 2016 campaign, and he reveled in the stock-market surge that followed his victory. Even before he took office, consumer and small-business confidence levels soared, driven largely by Mr. Trump’s Republican supporters. Both measures have remained elevated throughout his term, with sentiment among Republican consumers hitting a record high in February in a long-running survey from the University of Michigan.

But on several measures, the economy has fallen short of the president’s promises. It grew 2.3 percent last year, well below the forecasts of Mr. Trump’s economic team, as the president’s trade war chilled business investment. Economic growth in the first three years of President Barack Obama’s second term was nearly identical to that of Mr. Trump’s first three years. Median wage growth is no higher today than it was in October 2016, and it remains well below the levels of the late 1990s.

Small business owners’ expectations for capital investment now are essentially unchanged from before the 2016 election. Among consumers, the postelection rise in confidence has failed to translate into a sustained improvement in spending, shattering a longstanding relationship. After Mr. Trump’s election, said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, “a gap opened up between the spending and confidence numbers, and that gap has persisted.”

Feeling Good, But Not Acting Like It

President Trump’s election led to a surge in consumer confidence, at least among Republicans. But that hasn’t translated into stronger spending.

Westlake Legal Group 0303-biz-web-TRUMP-NARRATIVE-Artboard_2 Trump’s Economic Cheerleading Is Suddenly Tested Wages and Salaries United States Politics and Government United States Economy United States Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Labor and Jobs Consumer Behavior

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE

CONSUMER SPENDING

University of Michigan

Index of Consumer Sentiment

Year-over-year percentage change in

inflation-adjusted consumer spending

NOV. ’16

NOV. ’16

Trump elected

Trump elected

12-MONTH ROLLING AVERAGE

12-MONTH ROLLING AVERAGE

Westlake Legal Group 0303-biz-web-TRUMP-NARRATIVE-Artboard_3 Trump’s Economic Cheerleading Is Suddenly Tested Wages and Salaries United States Politics and Government United States Economy United States Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Labor and Jobs Consumer Behavior

Consumer confidence

Consumer spending

University of Michigan

Index of Consumer

Sentiment

Year-over-year percentage

change in inflation-adjusted

consumer spending

NOV. ’16

NOV. ’16

Trump elected

Trump elected

12-month rolling avg.

12-month rolling avg.

Sources: Bureau of Economic Analysis (consumer spending); University of Michigan (consumer confidence).

By The New York Times

The confidence gap is driven entirely by asymmetric partisanship, powered by a surge in Republican sentiment. When Mr. Obama was in office, surveys consistently showed that Democrats felt better about the economy than Republicans. When Mr. Trump was elected, the pattern reversed almost overnight, though the surge in Republican optimism was larger than the drop-off among Democrats.

Masha Krupenkin, a Boston College political scientist, said Republicans show bigger swings in economic confidence, and exhibit a similar pattern in surveys that ask about trust in government, depending on which party controls the White House, compared with Democrats.

The Times survey showed Democrats were less optimistic about the economy and less willing to credit Mr. Trump for it than Republicans were. Confidence among independent voters has fallen to a level between that of Democrats and Republicans, but closer to Democrats’, during Mr. Trump’s term. (Optimism among independents surged in January, but came back to earth in February, according to the Times survey.)

Douglas Prasher, a Democratic voter in Prescott Valley, Ariz., said he didn’t buy claims that the economy was doing well — and he didn’t think Mr. Trump deserved credit if it was. Mr. Prasher, 68, recently retired to Arizona from San Diego, which he said had become unaffordable because of sky-high housing costs. His new home state is cheaper, but he has still had to take on a part-time job to make ends meet. He carries hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt from helping his daughters go to college.

“As far as I’m concerned, people are suffering,” Mr. Prasher said. The supposedly strong economy, he said, “seems to only help the wealthy, which we’re not in that category.”

That rhetoric echoes the message of Democratic candidates running for the White House, who frequently claim that the economy is “rigged” or only works for the very rich. Democrats in the Times survey were much more likely to use that phrasing to describe the economy than Mr. Trump’s preferred terms. So were independents, who were six times as likely to call the economy “rigged” or badly broken” as to say it was the “best economy ever.”

Mr. Trump’s aggressive claims — that it is not just strong but “the best ever” — may make him less credible to people not already inclined to support him, said Michele Claibourn, a political scientist at the University of Virginia. “It’s easier to resist as information if it feels exaggerated,” she said.

Ms. Claibourn said presidents have historically tried to distinguish between when they were speaking as party leaders and when they were addressing the public in their official, less partisan, capacity. Those lines have blurred over the decades. Under Mr. Trump, the distinction has disappeared almost entirely, she said.

Jim Tankersley reported from Washington, and Ben Casselman from New York.

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Trump’s Economic Cheerleading Is Suddenly Tested

WASHINGTON — One of President Trump’s greatest strengths in his presidential campaign is his economic salesmanship: He has convinced a devoted share of Americans that his leadership has made the U.S. economy bulletproof and that markets would crash if he were defeated in November.

The president’s ability to set the economic narrative is buoyed by an 11-year economic expansion, with rising wages and unemployment at a 50-year low. That strength presents a challenge for the Democrats hoping to unseat him in November — even though Mr. Trump’s cheerleading is often overstated and parts of the economy are slowing, including manufacturing.

That helps explain why Mr. Trump has played down economic damage from the coronavirus and dismissed the stock market plunge: They threaten to undermine the most effective story he tells about his presidency.

“The country is in great shape, the market is in great shape,” Mr. Trump told reporters outside the White House on Tuesday, as stocks tumbled after the Federal Reserve’s rate cut. The S&P 500 ended the day down about 2.8 percent.

Mr. Trump has blamed any growth hiccups on external events, like the Democrats running for president, troubles at the aerospace giant Boeing and the Federal Reserve. He has praised consumers and the economy’s strength, even as forecasters warn that the virus could dampen growth at least temporarily this year.

On Monday, Mr. Trump suggested on Twitter that House Democrats pass a one-year cut in payroll taxes, a form of fiscal stimulus often aimed at boosting consumer spending at times of economic weakness. Yet the president did not concede any economic trouble.

“This is an incredible time for our nation,” he wrote on Twitter. “Jobs are booming, incomes are soaring, poverty is plummeting, confidence is surging.”

That kind of rhetoric has served Mr. Trump well during his first three years in office, helping him win credit — at least among supporters — for what remains a strong economy. But experts warn that it has also helped widen a partisan divide on the economy, which may make it more difficult for Mr. Trump to reassure the public in the event of a crisis, like the spread of coronavirus.

“The aura of the office, where people might have deferred to the message about the state of the economy, I think today that’s gone,” said Shanto Iyengar, a political scientist at Stanford University. “It’s gone because of the hyper-partisanship.”

Americans who tune into Mr. Trump’s messages are far more likely to echo his language on the economy and are more optimistic about it, according to a new nationwide poll conducted last month for The New York Times by the online research firm SurveyMonkey.

Respondents were asked to choose from a list of terms that could describe the state of the economy. Those who said they regularly watched or followed news coverage of Mr. Trump’s speeches were about twice as likely to describe the economy as “booming” or the “best economy ever,” and they were far more likely to express confidence in the economy and give Mr. Trump credit for its condition.

The split persisted among Democrats, independents and even among Republicans. More than eight in 10 Republican voters who regularly follow Mr. Trump’s speeches say Mr. Trump deserves “a lot” of credit for the economy. Only about one in three Republicans who do not regularly follow the speeches said the same.

Will Hicks, a 32-year-old survey respondent in the oil field town of Roosevelt, Utah, said Mr. Trump’s election provided an immediate jolt to people in his area. He credits Mr. Trump and his boosterism for much of that, even though he said the president’s claims were often overstated.

“His viewpoint is all positive, that we’re going to get greater, we’re going to improve our economy,” Mr. Hicks said. “I think that push forward, even though it might be a little bit of an exaggeration, has helped the economy.”

Some economists agree. Robert Shiller, a Nobel Prize-winning economist at Yale, has described Mr. Trump’s cheerleading as the driving force behind the continuation of the now-record economic expansion over the last three years.

In a presentation earlier this year — in which he compared Mr. Trump’s economic messaging to the spread of a pandemic virus — Mr. Shiller reported than 62 percent of newspaper articles that mentioned a “strong economy” from 2017 to 2019 also mentioned Mr. Trump. That’s more than twice the rate of association that President Bill Clinton enjoyed during a stronger economy in the late 1990s.

Mr. Trump “is our first motivational-speaker president,” Mr. Shiller said.

Mr. Trump made grand economic promises a centerpiece of his 2016 campaign, and he reveled in the stock-market surge that followed his victory. Even before he took office, consumer and small-business confidence levels soared, driven largely by Mr. Trump’s Republican supporters. Both measures have remained elevated throughout his term, with sentiment among Republican consumers hitting a record high in February in a long-running survey from the University of Michigan.

But on several measures, the economy has fallen short of the president’s promises. It grew 2.3 percent last year, well below the forecasts of Mr. Trump’s economic team, as the president’s trade war chilled business investment. Economic growth in the first three years of President Barack Obama’s second term was nearly identical to that of Mr. Trump’s first three years. Median wage growth is no higher today than it was in October 2016, and it remains well below the levels of the late 1990s.

Small business owners’ expectations for capital investment now are essentially unchanged from before the 2016 election. Among consumers, the postelection rise in confidence has failed to translate into a sustained improvement in spending, shattering a longstanding relationship. After Mr. Trump’s election, said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, “a gap opened up between the spending and confidence numbers, and that gap has persisted.”

Feeling Good, But Not Acting Like It

President Trump’s election led to a surge in consumer confidence, at least among Republicans. But that hasn’t translated into stronger spending.

Westlake Legal Group 0303-biz-web-TRUMP-NARRATIVE-Artboard_2 Trump’s Economic Cheerleading Is Suddenly Tested Wages and Salaries United States Politics and Government United States Economy United States Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Labor and Jobs Consumer Behavior

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE

CONSUMER SPENDING

University of Michigan

Index of Consumer Sentiment

Year-over-year percentage change in

inflation-adjusted consumer spending

NOV. ’16

NOV. ’16

Trump elected

Trump elected

12-MONTH ROLLING AVERAGE

12-MONTH ROLLING AVERAGE

Westlake Legal Group 0303-biz-web-TRUMP-NARRATIVE-Artboard_3 Trump’s Economic Cheerleading Is Suddenly Tested Wages and Salaries United States Politics and Government United States Economy United States Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Labor and Jobs Consumer Behavior

Consumer confidence

Consumer spending

University of Michigan

Index of Consumer

Sentiment

Year-over-year percentage

change in inflation-adjusted

consumer spending

NOV. ’16

NOV. ’16

Trump elected

Trump elected

12-month rolling avg.

12-month rolling avg.

Sources: Bureau of Economic Analysis (consumer spending); University of Michigan (consumer confidence).

By The New York Times

The confidence gap is driven entirely by asymmetric partisanship, powered by a surge in Republican sentiment. When Mr. Obama was in office, surveys consistently showed that Democrats felt better about the economy than Republicans. When Mr. Trump was elected, the pattern reversed almost overnight, though the surge in Republican optimism was larger than the drop-off among Democrats.

Masha Krupenkin, a Boston College political scientist, said Republicans show bigger swings in economic confidence, and exhibit a similar pattern in surveys that ask about trust in government, depending on which party controls the White House, compared with Democrats.

The Times survey showed Democrats were less optimistic about the economy and less willing to credit Mr. Trump for it than Republicans were. Confidence among independent voters has fallen to a level between that of Democrats and Republicans, but closer to Democrats’, during Mr. Trump’s term. (Optimism among independents surged in January, but came back to earth in February, according to the Times survey.)

Douglas Prasher, a Democratic voter in Prescott Valley, Ariz., said he didn’t buy claims that the economy was doing well — and he didn’t think Mr. Trump deserved credit if it was. Mr. Prasher, 68, recently retired to Arizona from San Diego, which he said had become unaffordable because of sky-high housing costs. His new home state is cheaper, but he has still had to take on a part-time job to make ends meet. He carries hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt from helping his daughters go to college.

“As far as I’m concerned, people are suffering,” Mr. Prasher said. The supposedly strong economy, he said, “seems to only help the wealthy, which we’re not in that category.”

That rhetoric echoes the message of Democratic candidates running for the White House, who frequently claim that the economy is “rigged” or only works for the very rich. Democrats in the Times survey were much more likely to use that phrasing to describe the economy than Mr. Trump’s preferred terms. So were independents, who were six times as likely to call the economy “rigged” or badly broken” as to say it was the “best economy ever.”

Mr. Trump’s aggressive claims — that it is not just strong but “the best ever” — may make him less credible to people not already inclined to support him, said Michele Claibourn, a political scientist at the University of Virginia. “It’s easier to resist as information if it feels exaggerated,” she said.

Ms. Claibourn said presidents have historically tried to distinguish between when they were speaking as party leaders and when they were addressing the public in their official, less partisan, capacity. Those lines have blurred over the decades. Under Mr. Trump, the distinction has disappeared almost entirely, she said.

Jim Tankersley reported from Washington, and Ben Casselman from New York.

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Criticized for Coronavirus Response, Trump Points to Obama Administration

Westlake Legal Group 04dc-trumpvirus-facebookJumbo Criticized for Coronavirus Response, Trump Points to Obama Administration United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Regulation and Deregulation of Industry Obama, Barack Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Airlines and Airplanes

WASHINGTON — President Trump sought to deflect criticism of his administration’s response to the coronavirus onto his predecessor on Wednesday, complaining that a federal regulation adopted under President Barack Obama made it harder to enact widespread testing for the virus.

“The Obama administration made a decision on testing that turned out to be very detrimental to what we’re doing, and we undid that decision a few days ago so that the testing can take place at a much more accurate and rapid fashion,” Mr. Trump said. “That was a decision we disagreed with. I don’t think we would have made it, but for some reason it was made. But we’ve undone that decision.”

No coronavirus issue has attracted as much attention as testing, which even now has lagged behind other countries dealing with the virus. Local health agencies have complained that a lack of coronavirus tests have hindered their abilities to identify patients, and tight restrictions imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on who could be tested have meant that some infected patients waited days before a diagnosis.

The last of those restrictions were lifted by Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday.

Mr. Trump raised the testing issue during a meeting with airline executives convened at the White House to discuss the effect of the outbreak on their industry. He appeared to be referring to a regulation that limited the ability of laboratories run by states, universities and private companies to conduct medical screenings not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. On Saturday, the F.D.A. commissioner, Stephen M. Hahn, allowed those labs to use tests they independently developed after submitting evidence that they work before the F.D.A. completes its review.

Dr. Robert Redfield, the C.D.C. director, said the regulatory change was quickly making tests more available. “It’s really very, very important,” Dr. Redfield said at the White House event with Mr. Trump. “It’s what’s changed the availability of testing overnight.”

Dozens of labs have now applied for emergency approval under the F.D.A. decision.

Under fire for his handling of the outbreak, Mr. Trump appeared eager to focus attention on the Obama administration, making a point of using the former president’s name in his comments to reporters. He did not explain why his administration did not change the rule during his first three years in office or before this past weekend, two months into the outbreak.

Mr. Obama did not immediately respond, but he separately posted a message on Twitter urging Americans to follow advice from the C.D.C. “Protect yourself and your community from coronavirus with common sense precautions: wash your hands, stay home when sick and listen to the @CDCgov and local health authorities,” he wrote. “Save the masks for health care workers. Let’s stay calm, listen to the experts, and follow the science.”

Mr. Trump, joining a meeting that had been set to be led by Mr. Pence, sought to reassure Americans that the outbreak was under control and portrayed the cancellation of hundreds of thousands of flights to other countries like China as a boon for domestic travel.

“A lot of people are doing domestic business now,” the president said. “They’re staying in this country. They feel safe. If you look at the percentage, we have a very small percentage” of infections.

Asked if he considered it safe to fly, Mr. Trump pointed at the executives around his table: “Where these people are flying, it’s safe to fly.”

But the airline executives made clear that they were struggling to persuade passengers of that. “Right now, the fear is almost worse than the virus,” Nicholas Calio, the president and chief executive of Airlines for America, the trade association for leading passenger and cargo airlines, told Mr. Trump, gently pressing him to do more to reassure the traveling public.

Mr. Trump did not directly offer any additional help. “Yeah, no, we’re doing a good job,” he responded.

But the famously germ-phobic president said he was doing his part by following medical advice on how to avoid becoming infected. “I haven’t touched my face in weeks,” he said. “In weeks. I miss it.”

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Michael Bloomberg Quits Democratic Race, Ending a Brief and Costly Bid

Westlake Legal Group 03bloomberg-out-facebookJumbo Michael Bloomberg Quits Democratic Race, Ending a Brief and Costly Bid Trump, Donald J Sanders, Bernard Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Democratic Party Bloomberg, Michael R Biden, Joseph R Jr

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Michael R. Bloomberg dropped out of the presidential race on Wednesday, just over three months after he began a campaign that was fueled by his vast fortune and quickly grew to a sprawling political operation but failed to win the groundswell of moderate support he had sought. Mr. Bloomberg endorsed Joseph R. Biden Jr., saying that he had the best shot to beat President Trump.

After staking his candidacy on doing well on Super Tuesday, he did not collect on his grand bet, winning only American Samoa.

He made the announcement after falling short in his quest to poach enough center-left voters from former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who carried North Carolina, Virginia and other states across the South on Super Tuesday and won a decisive victory last weekend in South Carolina.

In an unprecedented effort to self-finance a presidential campaign — which some rivals derided as an attempt to buy the White House — Mr. Bloomberg’s bid cost him more than half a billion dollars in advertising alone. He also spent lavishly on robust on-the-ground operations, with more than 200 field offices across the country and thousands of paid staff. His operation dwarfed those of Democratic rivals who ultimately won states in which he had installed many dozens of employees and spent heavily on radio, television and direct mail ads.

Mr. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, exited the race as the Democratic establishment began to converge around Mr. Biden — the very scenario he had judged unlikely when he declared his candidacy in late November. As some of Mr. Biden’s onetime opponents, including Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., and Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, endorsed him this week, Mr. Bloomberg’s hopes of capturing the support he needed quickly evaporated.

He was not helped by two deeply unimpressive debate performances, during which Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts led an onslaught of attacks on his record and past statements. Mr. Bloomberg had difficulty countering criticism that could threaten him in a Democratic primary, on issues including his support for the discriminatory stop-and-frisk policing tactic and his treatment of women in the workplace.

While Mr. Bloomberg’s departure from the race was meant to help unite the Democratic Party — and avoid splintering moderate or independent voters by drawing them away from Mr. Biden — Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont remained a strong contender in the race and was on track to capture a sizable number of delegates in Tuesday’s contests.

Over the course of his campaign, Mr. Bloomberg had argued against the danger of not just the re-election of President Trump but also the nomination of Mr. Sanders, whom he called incapable of defeating the president. “I don’t think the country wants revolutionary change,” he said this week. “I think the country wants evolutionary change, and Sanders is a very revolutionary kind of guy.”

Mr. Bloomberg spent Super Tuesday in Florida, which will hold its primary on March 17. He acknowledged there that he might not win any states that day and that his only path to the nomination could be through a contested convention.

“I don’t think I can win any other way,” he said at his campaign office in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood. He was irked by repeated questions about how long he would stay in the race, and whether doing so would benefit Mr. Sanders at the expense of Mr. Biden.

“Joe’s taking votes away from me,” Mr. Bloomberg said, insisting that he had no plans to drop out. “Have you asked Joe whether he’s going to drop out?”

He visited Orlando, where he opened a campaign office and commemorated the victims of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting. Then, in what would be his final campaign event, he rallied supporters on Tuesday night in West Palm Beach, promising to compete in upcoming battleground states.

“This is a campaign for change — a campaign for sanity, for honesty, a campaign for inclusion, compassion, for competence, and a campaign for human decency,” he said. “And this is a campaign to bring our country back together and put the ‘United’ back in the United States of America.”

Even as he took himself out of the running, Mr. Bloomberg is likely to remain influential in the 2020 presidential election, having pledged to continue to pour resources into the Democratic effort to unseat Mr. Trump and deploy his main field offices in support of the nominee.

He had pitched himself to voters as “the un-Trump,” often describing himself as “a sane, competent person,” while acknowledging what he called “the elephant in the room” — that a Bloomberg-Trump general election would feature “two New York billionaires” who have played golf together in the past.

“He’s a climate denier, I’m an engineer,” Mr. Bloomberg said repeatedly at his rallies, trying to sharpen the contrasts between himself and the president. “He looks out for people who inherited their wealth, like him, while I’m self-made.”

Along the way, he became a favorite target of Mr. Trump’s on Twitter, with the president posting about Mr. Bloomberg more than 20 times since he entered the race. “Only his highly paid consultants, who are laughing all the way to the bank, still support him,” Mr. Trump wrote this week.

Mr. Bloomberg deployed his wealth to assemble an enormous campaign team of over 2,400 staff members spread across hundreds of offices. He concentrated more than 100 of those offices in Super Tuesday states, where his infrastructure quickly exceeded that of his opponents. For instance, in Ms. Warren’s home state of Massachusetts — where Mr. Bloomberg himself grew up — he established six field offices across the state, four more than Ms. Warren and five more than Mr. Biden, who ultimately won there.

His campaign spent lavishly in other ways, paying staff members unprecedented salaries and seeking to woo voters with slick campaign events that featured swag (tote bags, water bottles, an array of T-shirts in all sizes), drinks (wine, beer, lemonade) and banquet-style food spreads (brisket, cheesesteaks, gourmet flatbread pizzas). They also leveraged the sophistication of Bloomberg LP’s data science, bringing to bear proprietary technology like an artificial intelligence program.

But the very things Mr. Bloomberg called competitive advantages to his candidacy — his moderate politics and dual identity with both sides of the aisle — were also liabilities to his Democratic bid.

Some Democrats attacked his former affiliation with the Republican Party, noting he had won election in New York City on the party’s ticket twice. Ms. Warren in particular took sharp aim at him — denouncing his history of demeaning comments about women, calling on him to release former employees from nondisclosure agreements, and criticizing his past support of Republican candidates like former Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts, whom Ms. Warren unseated in a tight race in 2012.

Defending his record, Mr. Bloomberg repeatedly invoked his extensive philanthropic support of liberal causes — taking on issues like gun control and climate change — and his support of Democratic candidates. He pointed to the $100 million he had put toward helping the party take control of the House of Representatives in 2018.

But many liberal voters didn’t find his philanthropy persuasive, and Mr. Bloomberg was dogged by criticism relating to past controversies as well as the notion that he was, as Mr. Sanders said, “buying the election.”

Mr. Bloomberg argued that his fortune freed him to focus on issues rather than the horse-trading that can accompany fund-raising, and that his campaign was not beholden to anyone.

“I’m not going to try to be somebody that I’m not,” he said this week before he dropped out of the race. “I can beat Donald Trump, and I don’t know that any of the others can.”

Patricia Mazzei reported from Miami and West Palm Beach, Fla., and Rebecca R. Ruiz and Jeremy W. Peters from New York.

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Is Fiscal Stimulus the Answer to Preventing a Coronavirus Recession?

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_108456655_6cee443d-dfe2-40b5-a93a-c7d88ac412dd-articleLarge Is Fiscal Stimulus the Answer to Preventing a Coronavirus Recession? United States Politics and Government United States Economy Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Federal Budget (US) Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

President George W. Bush signing the economic stimulus act of 2008.Credit…Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press

As governments seek to contain the economic damage from the coronavirus outbreak, expect to hear two words that have been absent from the Washington lexicon for years: fiscal stimulus.

Prominent economists and some lawmakers — most notably the senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, who released a stimulus plan Monday — are starting to wrestle with how the government might use its power to tax and spend to mitigate the economic pain.

The attention to fiscal policy reflects the little room remaining for the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates — the usual first line of defense against economic slumps. That is all the more relevant after a half-percentage point surprise rate cut that the Fed announced Tuesday morning. The complexities of responding to a pandemic and the desire of lawmakers to show they are getting something done in an election year could strengthen the case for a fiscal boost.

“This is not a shock that central banks alone can address,” Laurence Boone, chief economist of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, told reporters in a briefing Monday. “It really, really needs to be accompanied by fiscal measures.”

In a statement Tuesday morning, the Group of 7 finance ministers and central bankers raised the possibility as well, saying they “are ready to take actions, including fiscal measures where appropriate,” to help with the response to the virus and to support economies.

Talk of fiscal stimulus is still in the earliest phases, reflecting the suddenness with which signs have emerged that the new coronavirus will hurt the economy.

A senior administration official said Monday afternoon that Mr. Trump and his advisers think that any bumps in the next quarter or two are likely to be temporary, and that they don’t think temporary policies work to stimulate growth.

But in a tweet late Monday evening, President Trump seemed to endorse a one-year payroll tax holiday, suggesting stimulus along those lines would be “great for the middle class, great for the USA!”

Those who closely track the machinations of Washington believe there will be a meaningful push for some fiscal action if the economic outlook deteriorates. Whether it would eventually pass, of course, is a different matter given deep partisan divides in Congress.

“I think members of Congress and the White House are contemplating what their options are,” said Brian Gardner, who tracks economic policy in Washington as managing director at Keefe Bruyette & Woods. “We’re in an era of hyperpartisanship, and neither party is going to want to give the other a win going into the election.

“At the same time I think politicians don’t want to be seen as stonewalling on a possible answer to a crisis, so I think the politics are a little more friendly to getting some kind of fiscal package through than it might seem.”

Ms. Warren on Monday proposed a $400 billion package of measures to pump money into the economy.

She suggested the government offer low-interest loans to companies affected by temporary coronavirus disruptions; expand unemployment insurance and other direct payments to Americans; and give aid to state and local governments losing money because of the virus.

Her plan also included provisions less directly connected to addressing immediate damage from the virus, such as encouraging American-made manufacture of pharmaceuticals and clean energy investments.

If Congress does move toward fiscal stimulus in the coming months, it will be an uncommonly quick response to an economic threat.

In early 2008, for example, the George W. Bush administration and congressional Democrats successfully negotiated a $152 billion stimulus meant to ease the effects of the housing crash and a financial crisis then underway. But that came about six months after financial markets first flashed signs of panic, in August 2007.

It would probably take some more solid evidence that the virus was causing deteriorating business conditions for Congress and the Trump administration to conclude that action was needed. But that time shouldn’t be wasted, said Jason Furman, former chief White House economist in the Obama administration, who is now at the Harvard Kennedy School.

“I think people should be preparing a fiscal expansion,” Mr. Furman said. “It may very well be needed. But even like two or three weeks of additional information might be useful.”

He draws a distinction between spending needed to address the public health risks from coronavirus — most likely several billion dollars on things like medical equipment and aid to states dealing with the crisis — and the kind of spending that might be warranted to prop up overall demand in the economy. The latter would probably run in the hundreds of billions of dollars.

In that stimulus scenario, the goal would be to put more money into Americans’ pockets, such as with payroll tax reductions or more generous unemployment insurance benefits, to ensure that disruptions because of coronavirus do not spill out into an economywide recession.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office and president of the American Action Forum, said that the new coronavirus would be likely to have a short but substantial effect on the economy — a “V” shape — and that it would be difficult to create a stimulus that matched the timing and severity of the economic disruption.

“Do we know enough about the V shape to merit a policy response?” Mr. Holtz-Eakin said. “It makes me skeptical. It’s really hard.”

At a minimum, he says, if Congress considers a stimulus, it ought to look at policies that are desirable on their own terms, not merely for what they might do to aggregate demand in the economy for a quarter or two.

Even if there is more of a widespread embrace of fiscal policy as the virus’s economic impact broadens, the politics will be fraught.

President Trump has repeated that the economy is strong, the virus well contained. He says the recent decline in the stock market is a result of an alarmist media and insufficient interest-rate cuts by the Federal Reserve. Presumably, he would need to modify that outlook to justify a nine-figure stimulus package.

And Democrats who control the House would be reluctant to give President Trump an economic boost heading into the November elections. They would probably demand a high price in the form of the Republican Senate’s agreeing to Democratic spending priorities.

All of that makes the legislative prognosis for stimulus uncertain at best. But so is the level of risk the economy faces. And if conditions get bad, it has a way of forcing even bitter political enemies to the negotiating table.


Jim Tankersley contributed reporting.

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While Democratic Party Leaders Fretted, Bernie Sanders Rose to Top

Westlake Legal Group 02dems-reconstruct1-facebookJumbo While Democratic Party Leaders Fretted, Bernie Sanders Rose to Top Warren, Elizabeth United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Sanders, Bernard Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Klobuchar, Amy Democratic Party Bloomberg, Michael R Biden, Joseph R Jr

Late last year a group of first-term House Democrats, anxious over the party’s fractious presidential race, convened a series of discussions intended to spur unity. Led by Representatives Colin Allred of Texas and Haley Stevens of Michigan, they considered issuing a collective endorsement of one moderate candidate.

The group held phone calls with Joseph R. Biden Jr., Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg. But the lawmakers could not agree: Some were torn between the options, and others worried about alienating voters at home who backed other contenders, like Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. A few issued solo endorsements of Mr. Biden, but the grander plan disintegrated.

“There was not time to reach consensus over one candidate,” said Ms. Stevens, who eventually endorsed Michael R. Bloomberg, recalling the “fast-moving” blur of the lead-up to Iowa.

That effort was just one in a series of abandoned or ineffective plans to rally the moderate wing of the Democratic Party, and the leaders and institutions of the political establishment, behind a single formidable contender who could stop the ascent of Mr. Sanders, a democratic socialist promising a revolution in government.

A gambit to have the powerful Democratic machine in Nevada back Mr. Biden, for instance, fizzled when the former vice president finished fifth in New Hampshire. Two outside spending groups formed to target Mr. Sanders were unable to inflict damage.

Now, on the eve of Super Tuesday, when Democrats across 15 states and territories will hand out more than a third of the delegates required to claim the nomination, Mr. Sanders is within reach of a clear national lead and Mr. Biden is racing to catch up.

In the last few days, moderate Democrats acting with a new sense of urgency have begun a large-scale effort to coalesce around Mr. Biden, with Mr. Buttigieg leaving the race on Sunday and Ms. Klobuchar abandoning her own campaign Monday. In a sign of the new, if frantic, spirit of unity, the two bitter foes were to join together to endorse the former vice president at a rally Monday night in Dallas.

But Mr. Sanders has become a formidable front-runner. The Vermont senator has put forth a sweeping set of policy prescriptions — far more ambitious than anything Mr. Biden and other moderates have proposed — to address defining concerns for many Democrats, like economic inequality and the soaring cost of health care and higher education.

His agenda has galvanized liberal voters yearning for change. Mr. Sanders finished atop the first three voting states before trailing Mr. Biden in South Carolina, and polls show him ahead in the delegate-rich state of California on Tuesday.

He holds significant financial and organizational advantages that he was able to accumulate over a long season of disarray among traditional Democrats. And he has begun to make an increasingly direct case to the rest of the party that his urgent message is the best match for a trying political moment, and that he is the candidate most prepared to do battle with President Trump.

Interviews with more than 100 Democratic elected officials, campaign strategists, union leaders and donors revealed a party establishment that spent many months distressed about the implications of nominating Mr. Sanders but frozen in a state of anxiety over who would be the best alternative.

Many of the most influential officials, organizations and donors in the party remain torn between their concern about Mr. Sanders’s chances in the general election, their fear of antagonizing his supporters, and their belated and often-rueful recognition that he has assembled a political movement with appeal well beyond the youthful, left-wing base he built in 2016.

Top Democrats now believe that there are only two realistic paths forward in the presidential race: a dominant victory on Tuesday by Mr. Sanders that gives him a wide lead in the delegate count, or a battle for delegates over months of primary elections, that might allow Mr. Biden to pull ahead or force the nomination to be decided at the Milwaukee convention in July.

The mood of emergency among party leaders has been simmering for months but it only translated into a surge of support for Mr. Biden at the very last minute.

“If we go through March 3 and don’t show that we have a nominee who can appeal to a broad swath of our party, we’re going to be in serious trouble,” said Terry McAuliffe, the former Virginia governor and Democratic National Committee chairman, who endorsed Mr. Biden over the weekend.

Even now, authority figures like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and former President Barack Obama have stayed on the sidelines, convinced their intervention would only fuel Mr. Sanders’s claims of an insider plot against him. Influential labor groups and advocacy organizations have either stayed quiet or supported multiple candidates.

The candidates themselves have made fitful or flawed efforts to garner mainstream Democratic support: A number of lawmakers open to endorsing Mr. Biden said he did little to reach out to them for most of the campaign, letting weeks or months go by without any contact from him or his aides.

A flashy late entrant, Mr. Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York City mayor, initially impressed elected officials with an energetic charm offensive and a war-machine campaign operation. But many Democrats developed serious reservations about him after a damaging debate-stage clash with Ms. Warren last month.

Underdog moderates persisted in pleading with party leaders for help, promising to continue their campaigns even at the risk of playing a spoiler’s role for Mr. Biden or Mr. Bloomberg. Last week, only three days before he dropped out of the race, Mr. Buttigieg visited the Capitol to seek endorsements and vowed in a private meeting with centrist Democrats that he would not withdraw. It was only after South Carolina, when internal campaign projections were clear that they faced a rout on Super Tuesday, that Mr. Buttigieg and Ms. Klobuchar dropped out.

And while Mr. Sanders has made private overtures toward centrists, his harpoons toward “corporate Democrats” and the scorched-earth tactics of his supporters have continued to unnerve Democratic leaders.

Christine Pelosi, one of the speaker’s daughters, last month contacted Mr. Sanders’s advisers to convey her unhappiness that the actress Susan Sarandon, who is backing the Vermont senator, had called for Speaker Pelosi’s ouster, according to a Democrat familiar with the conversations.

Last Wednesday, the speaker herself seemed to have Mr. Sanders on her mind. That day, she declared in a news conference that Democrats would “wholeheartedly support” whoever their voters nominated.

But in a closed-door session in the Capitol with her leadership team, Ms. Pelosi’s irritation was unmistakable, according to two Democratic officials familiar with the conversation.

With Mr. Sanders largely ignoring the roster of bills her majority has passed and boasting that only a true progressive can defeat Mr. Trump, the speaker said House Democrats proved in 2018 how to win elections; she cited their legislative accomplishments and dismissed the “geniuses” on television who claim the party is shifting sharply to the left.

Ms. Pelosi also invoked her own liberal credentials: In her basement, she noted, she still had old campaign signs supporting progressive causes.

It was not only the national Democratic establishment that declined to unite around Mr. Biden or anyone else. Efforts in the states crumbled or proved ineffective: After the muddled results in Iowa and New Hampshire, Mr. Biden’s campaign hoped to make a strong stand in Nevada, the first diverse state to weigh in on the nomination.

Mr. Biden’s advisers privately projected optimism that they could win endorsements from the most important forces in Nevada politics: Gov. Steve Sisolak, a popular moderate; the casino workers union; and Harry Reid, the former Democratic leader in the Senate. But spooked by Mr. Biden’s debilitating loss in New Hampshire, none of them backed him before the caucuses. Mr. Sanders won the state by an overwhelming margin.

As in other states, Democratic leaders said there had been limited outreach by Mr. Biden. In an interview before the caucuses, Mr. Reid said he had not heard from him or his campaign chairman, Steve Ricchetti, in “several weeks.”

Another candidate was more proactive, pursuing Mr. Reid and many other Democratic leaders with solicitousness: Mr. Bloomberg.

Mr. Bloomberg visited Capitol Hill and dispatched aides around the country to seek endorsements and outline his plans for the campaign against Mr. Trump. His advisers have paraded Democrats through their Times Square headquarters. And even though he was not competing in Nevada, Mr. Bloomberg visited Mr. Reid and his wife, Landra, at their home outside Las Vegas.

By early February, Mr. Bloomberg had effectively frozen the support of other moderates, overwhelming voters with advertising and tantalizing Democratic power brokers with his vision for the general election. In an illustration of Mr. Bloomberg’s allure even to maverick Democrats, his advisers reached out to Andrew Yang after he withdrew from the presidential race to offer counsel about a possible campaign for mayor of New York City next year.

Yet Mr. Bloomberg has not always lived up to the image of a can-do executive he presents in his $500 million advertising campaign.

At a private meeting with Democratic governors in Washington, right after the Iowa caucuses, Mr. Bloomberg delivered a casual performance that alternately charmed and puzzled several attendees. He spoke vaguely about how he would unite the party and win over progressives, suggesting he could heal wounds by being kind to his critics in public and sending flowers to their wives, according to multiple people present.

In an awkward exchange, Mr. Bloomberg said he was uncertain why Ms. Warren, a Massachusetts senator, was faring poorly in the race; when Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon suggested gender could be a factor, Mr. Bloomberg said he disagreed. He emerged with no new supporters.

Mr. Bloomberg still secured a stream of endorsements from prominent Democrats. But his campaign lost a number of defectors because of his disastrous first debate, which dented his polling numbers and emboldened his critics.

“You can’t sell Bloomberg to the country,” said Representative Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, a Biden co-chair. “How’s he going to build a base with the stuff he’s said?”

Even as the race moved on from their early-state successes, Ms. Klobuchar and Mr. Buttigieg clung to hope in confounding ways.

Mr. Buttigieg insisted to donors that if he raised enough money, he could pull off an upset at the convention. Ms. Klobuchar was seen as a potential contender after her third-place finish in New Hampshire but, always attuned to her press coverage, she spent time in recent days sending personal messages to media figures complaining about their reporting and boasting of her energetic campaign schedule.

Despite their wariness of Mr. Sanders, party leaders have hesitated to mount an all-out effort against him. A pair of outside-spending efforts targeting him have struggled to get off the ground: Ad campaigns in Iowa and Nevada by a pro-Israel group failed to halt Mr. Sanders’s advance, and a second group, known as the Big Tent Project, has managed to cobble together only a few million dollars.

At a February luncheon for vulnerable lawmakers, Representative Cheri Bustos of Illinois, the chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, pressed Democrats not to rule out candidates whom they could feel pressure to support later. Her entreaty came after one vulnerable Democrat, Representative Anthony Brindisi of New York, told his hometown paper he would not support Mr. Sanders or Ms. Warren.

But Ms. Bustos is said to be worried about Mr. Sanders, and her committee plans to conduct polling in swing districts to see how nominating him might affect House races.

At the same time, Mr. Bloomberg has continued stoking that mood of alarm as he bids for, if not the heart, then at least the more calculating head of the Democratic establishment.

In a private briefing in Charleston, S.C., last week, one of Mr. Bloomberg’s senior advisers, Dan Kanninen, made an extensive presentation detailing the risks of nominating Mr. Sanders. “Florida is off the map,” he said, citing Mr. Sanders’s past praise of some of Fidel Castro’s programs, according to one person who shared a detailed account of the meeting.

In the same session, Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington, D.C., warned that Mr. Sanders had a “cultlike following,” and claimed Mr. Biden was no longer a viable option: “This is a choice between Bernie, Mike and Trump,” she said.

Days later, Mr. Biden won South Carolina by nearly 30 points.

On the eve of Super Tuesday, Mr. Sanders still appears to hold an upper hand, with a lead in national polls backed by his muscular fund-raising machine and grass-roots following. On Sunday, he announced that he had raised $46.5 million in February alone.

Given Mr. Sanders’s history of acrimony with the Democratic establishment, some in the party are skeptical that he can be induced to work cooperatively with party leadership. Some of his advisers are eager to signal that he can, though they calculated they would have a better chance after what they are hoping will be a breakthrough on Super Tuesday.

Mr. Sanders has made efforts toward comity in the past: He met several times last year with more moderate Democrats in Washington, pitching himself as a nominee they could at least tolerate. Meeting with the New Democrat Coalition last year, Mr. Sanders conceded that he had no hope of being their first choice, but said that he hoped they could accept him eventually, according to a lawmaker who heard his pitch.

Last summer, Mr. Sanders dined with another group of House members to make the case that his economic message and outsider’s approach would have wide traction in the general election. “Bernie’s argument is, ‘Don’t pigeonhole me as just a progressive candidate,’” said Representative Dan Kildee of Michigan, who attended the dinner.

But Mr. Sanders has done little over the last month to reassure skeptics within his party, striking a posture of defiance that may have helped accelerate the late movement toward Mr. Biden. Most senior Democrats are hoping that Mr. Sanders’s forward march can be slowed, and some have urged Mr. Obama to intervene.

Mr. Obama has shown no inclination to do so, reasoning that he must hang back to preserve his ability to help unify the party at the end of a messy nominating process.

Mr. Biden’s aides see that argument as so much malarkey, and they have conveyed as much to Mr. Obama’s inner circle, arguing that the former president’s leverage would evaporate once Mr. Sanders accrued millions of votes. They have pleaded with Mr. Obama’s camp to distance him from Mr. Bloomberg, who has run saturation-level advertising showing images of himself with the former president. When a poll came out last week showing that many Democratic voters believe Mr. Obama is supporting Mr. Bloomberg, the Biden campaign shared it with Mr. Obama’s aides.

Party leaders are already preparing for the possibility of a contested convention, and many superdelegates have indicated they are open to selecting a nominee besides Mr. Sanders if he collects the most delegates but falls short of a majority.

Tom Perez, the D.N.C. chairman, has been clear in conversations with allies that he will abide by the current rules and would not resist an effort by superdelegates to determine the nomination on a second ballot. Referring to the number of delegates needed for a majority, Mr. Perez told one Democrat, “1991 delegates are required,” and noted that Mr. Sanders is familiar with the guidelines.

With the identity of the Democratic standard-bearer unknown, Mr. Schumer has begun to ponder ways of uniting the party behind whoever that person might be: The Senate leader is particularly focused on the idea of nominating an African-American woman for vice president, mulling names like Senator Kamala Harris of California, Stacey Abrams of Georgia and Representative Val Demings of Florida, according to people who have spoken with Mr. Schumer.

As long as a contested convention remains possible, that could make it even harder for any single candidate to put together a decisive primary coalition.

Mr. Reid of Nevada said he was hopeful the race would not last until Milwaukee. But if no candidate achieved a delegate majority by the end of primary voting in June, Mr. Reid said last month that he was prepared to step in to arrange a deal before the convention in mid-July. In the run-up to his own state’s caucuses, Mr. Reid reached for a conciliatory role and cautioned Democrats not to put pressure on Mr. Sanders “to tone down anything.”

Mr. Trump, he said then, could be defeated by any of the top Democrats.

But nine days after Nevada Democrats voted, and weeks after his intervention could have resurrected Mr. Biden and slowed Mr. Sanders in the state, Mr. Reid had evidently reconsidered: On Monday, he issued a belated endorsement of Mr. Biden, calling him the best candidate “to defeat Trump and lead our country following the trauma of Trump’s presidency.”

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