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July 31, 2020: US Economy Declines Sharply

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Welcome to Majority.FM's AM QUICKIE! Brought to you by
It’s official – the United States economy has endured the largest decline since the invention of modern statistics. How’s your week going?
Meanwhile, Donald Trump doubles down on a threat to push back the date of the November election. Other Republicans aren’t quite sold on that idea – not yet, anyway.
And lastly: Funeral services were held in Atlanta for the late Congressman John Lewis. In his eulogy for the late civil rights leader, former president Barack Obama called on Americans to summon Lewis’s courage for the struggles ahead.
It seems the economists who warned of a Greater Depression were not off-base. The US economy shrank by nine point five percent in the last quarter, measured by Gross Domestic Product and as reported by the Department of Commerce. That’s one point eight trillion dollars worth of economic activity gone. At an annualized rate, which is the standard way of reporting these figures, the drop was closer to thirty-three percent. It’s the largest recorded GDP decline ever. But there are other ways to measure the economy. And they don’t look good either. For the nineteenth week in a row, new unemployment claims exceeded one million. New claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a program intended to cover freelancers and other workers who aren’t eligible for traditional unemployment benefits, totaled eight hundred and thirty thousand, according to the New York Times. Consumer spending dropped by over ten percent, the largest drop on record by far. The stock markets fell too. And according to Bloomberg News, thirty million Americans reported that they hadn’t gotten enough food to eat at some point in the week ending July 21. That represents approximately one in ten Americans going hungry, at least for a while. Five million of those surveyed by the Census Bureau said they were often without enough food.
Millions more are facing eviction. Ananya Roy, director of the Institute on Inequality and Democracy at the University of California, Los Angeles, told the Guardian that the scale of eviction and mass displacement was almost unimaginable. According to Roy, QUOTE This
will be worse than the Great Depression ENDQUOTE. Activists are calling on state leaders to cancel rent-related debts and keep people in their homes. In the meantime, they’re taking action with or without the help of elected leaders. In New Orleans, housing justice activists surrounded and effectively shut down a municipal courthouse where evictions are processed. It’s a start. This week has been a very long year, folks.
Trump Threatens Election Delay
Donald Trump said on Twitter yesterday morning that he might try to change the date of the November general election. Before proposing an unspecified delay, he said that mail-in voting would make 2020 QUOTE the most inaccurate and fraudulent election in history...[and] a great embarrassment to the USA, ENDQUOTE.
Legally, the date of the election is not something Trump can do. The date is set by the Constitution and only Congress has the power to change it. But the record of his first term shows that Trump’s Republican Party cares more about holding power than following the law. Many Congressional Republicans suggested Trump was joking. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky told a local television station that the country has voted as scheduled through wars and depressions and that QUOTE we’ll find a way to do that again this November 3, ENDQUOTE.
As election experts interviewed by the Washington Post pointed out, there are other things Trump can do to muck with the process as well as the result. Rick Hansen, a professor of law and political science at UC-Irvine, suggested Trump could claim emergency powers to keep people in cities from going to polling places in person. Or, Hansen said, Trump could pressure state legislatures to take voting for president away from citizens entirely in the name of public safety. That is to say, state lawmakers could select presidential electors without direct public input, as they did prior to 1824 – and this would be, theoretically, constitutional. Like I said, it’s gonna be a looooong year.
Obama Eulogizes John Lewis
A litany of American dignitaries attended the funeral services for the late Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis yesterday. Lewis helped organize the 1963 March on
Washington with the Reverand Doctor Martin Luther King, Junior. He joined Congress in 1987 and represented Georgia in the US House until his death two weeks ago today. He was ei