The New York Times
When Gov. Andrew Cuomo came under fire just a few weeks ago over his handling of nursing home deaths in the pandemic, he and his top advisers followed their usual playbook to stem the fallout: They worked the phones, pressing his case in private calls to legislators and other New York Democrats. Then came a crisis that Cuomo’s signature blend of threats, flattery and browbeating could not mitigate. And he seemed to know it. As three women stepped forward with claims of sexual harassment and other unwanted advances by Cuomo, the most visible governor in America effectively went dark. Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times After one of the women detailed her accusations against the governor in a Medium post, state Sen. Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat, decided that she would come out with a statement calling for an independent investigation — an implicit rebuke of Cuomo. She reached out to the governor’s team to alert them, aware of the typical angry response. No call came, she said. “None of my colleagues have said they have heard from the governor on this,” Krueger said of the harassment accusations. At the greatest moment of political peril for Cuomo in his decade in power, interviews with nearly two dozen Democratic lawmakers, strategists and Albany veterans paint a portrait of a governor who is increasingly isolated. Cuomo faces a federal inquiry into his administration’s handling of nursing home deaths during the pandemic and an independent investigation into the harassment allegations, making his political path forward more challenging by the day. On Friday, the state Legislature, which is controlled by Democrats, passed legislation to significantly curtail Cuomo’s vast emergency powers. When the governor appeared to suggest that he had played a role in the bill’s formulation, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie — not prone to criticizing Cuomo — immediately shot that down, pointedly saying in a statement that “we did not negotiate this bill with the governor.” Other lawmakers on Friday escalated their calls to reprimand the governor, demanding investigations, impeachment proceedings and even resignations, after The New York Times reported that his administration had rewritten a report to obscure the full extent of nursing home deaths. “If true, everyone involved in lying to the public and to the Legislature must resign immediately,” said state Sen. Rachel May, a Democrat from Syracuse. “And that includes the governor.” It is an extraordinary turnaround for the man who was former President Donald Trump’s most prominent foil in the early months of the pandemic and whose power in New York appeared nearly unassailable as 2021 began. Some people who have spoken to Cuomo in recent days have described him as shaken by the speed with which the political fallout arrived, with dueling scandals and reports of his bullying behavior all converging, very publicly, at once. Others have questioned whether he grasped the gravity of his circumstances. But the rapidly unfurling crises, they said, have been especially challenging for a governor who has always sought to be in control. Now he is at the whims of often-fickle public opinion, fuming legislators and investigations. Amid mounting scrutiny and nine days without a news conference, Cuomo picked Wednesday to emerge, one week after Lindsey Boylan, one of two former aides to speak out, detailed her accusations — which the governor has strenuously denied. His appearance followed strategy sessions with a small circle of trusted loyalists at the governor’s mansion, amid internal deliberations about both the substance of his remarks and how to manage the delivery and tone on a sensitive subject, according to people who have been in touch with the team. Longtime advisers and allies have helped the governor navigate the series of crises. They include two former top aides, Steven Cohen, the former secretary to the governor, and William Mulrow, another former secretary to the governor who now works at the private equity firm Blackstone; Melissa DeRosa, the governor’s top aide; Cuomo’s pollster, Jefrey Pollock; and Beth Garvey, special counsel to the governor. The result Wednesday was an uncharacteristically rattled chief executive who delivered an emotional apology for his conduct but insisted that he had never “touched anyone inappropriately” and that he did not intend to resign. “Palace intrigue aside, there’s a job to be done, and New Yorkers elected the governor to do it,” a spokesperson for the governor, Richard Azzopardi, said in a statement. “Which is why he has been focused on getting as many shots in arms as possible, making sure New York is getting its fair share in Washington’s COVID relief package and working on a state budget that is due in three weeks.” People who have been in touch with Cuomo’s team described some staff members — in particular, younger ones — as demoralized and exhausted as a series of controversies play out on top of a year of navigating COVID-19 in an exceptionally demanding environment. Several staff members have departed his office in recent days, citing a variety of reasons. Among those who have left are Gareth Rhodes, who served as a member of the state coronavirus task force and was a frequent guest star during Cuomo’s news briefings, and members of his press team. As the Legislature heads into high-stakes budget negotiations, even Cuomo’s traditional allies acknowledge that his influence has taken a hit. “It’s made his job more difficult,” said Jay Jacobs, the New York State Democratic Party chair, who said he had spoken with Cuomo on Thursday. “When you’re under this kind of pressure, that’s going to influence the amount of, the degree of, your political strength.” Jacobs seems to be the relatively rare political figure who has discussed the accusations with Cuomo directly. As the allegations unfolded, Cuomo’s team denied wrongdoing and issued statements, but a number of leading lawmakers in Albany and Washington did not hear from the governor on the matter. Donors, some of whom embrace Cuomo as a moderating force in the party, began to worry about his future. And a person close to Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul described an uptick in outreach to her office from political figures around the state — an unmistakable sign of uncertainty around Cuomo. At least for now, many Democratic voters appear to see the dynamics concerning the governor differently, a reminder that the political impact of the controversies is fluid and unpredictable. A Quinnipiac University poll out Thursday showed that Democrats overwhelmingly did not believe that he should resign, and half of those Democrats surveyed supported his running for reelection next year. But if Democratic voters are reserving some judgment on Cuomo, he has faced a staggering backlash from politicians in his party, many of whom have traditionally been reluctant to publicly challenge him — in some cases, for fear of retribution. Overlaying all of the turmoil is a sense of great uncertainty around whether additional women will raise allegations. “Any further people coming forward, I would think it would be time for him to resign,” the state Senate majority leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, said on Spectrum News’ “Capital Tonight” Thursday. Indeed, the public outcry and the dearth of vocal defenders illustrate both the complexities of the problems Cuomo faces and how little he has invested in building mutually respectful relationships in politics. As with other New York politicians in times of extreme crisis, it is a dynamic that is haunting him now. “The governor is in trouble because he’s a very tough guy and there are many people who don’t like him,” said George Arzt, a veteran New York political consultant who has known Cuomo for years. “He doesn’t have that reservoir of friends and good feeling to sort of push back. At this point, you don’t see many surrogates out there, and that’s a problem.” Asked to point a reporter to surrogates for the governor, spokespeople for Cuomo did not respond. In interviews over the past week, observers of Cuomo discussed political comparisons to former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who resigned abruptly after revelations of his involvement with a prostitution ring. In both cases, critics saw the men as domineering personalities who made enemies in political circles — leaving few people willing to go to bat for them when scandal hit. “Spitzer at one point thought that he could fight it, and that was quickly given up when he realized that his allies were not saying a word,” Arzt recalled. Certainly, he suggested, Cuomo “has his own inner circle that is still ready to go to war with him” — not to mention a long list of accomplishments in office and, Arzt said, “tremendous skill as a tactician.” “I do believe if anyone can get out of this, he can,” Arzt said, “if no other shoe drops.” And as Hank Sheinkopf, another longtime Democratic strategist, put it, “Eliot Spitzer had no friends. Andrew Cuomo has some friends.” This week, Hazel Dukes, president of the NAACP New York State Conference, said of Cuomo that it was “ridiculous to ask him to resign.” And while few prominent New York politicians have rushed to defend him, many have also held their fire regarding the question of resignation, deferring first to the independent investigation. For now, Cuomo continues to occupy a prominent space on the national stage. As the chair of the National Governors Association, he kicked off a meeting with President Joe Biden and other governors during the last week of February. Cuomo and Biden have had a strong political alliance in the past, but the two have not otherwise spoken since the harassment allegations broke, a Biden adviser said. The White House has indicated that it supports the independent investigation of the accusations of harassment against the governor. “When the investigation concludes, Democrats, I believe, will coalesce around doing the right thing,” Jacobs said. “We have to let the chips fall where they may, but I don’t see the value in a rush to judgment. I only see the potential cost.” In the meantime, Cuomo’s allies have quietly conducted outreach to figures including the Rev. Al Sharpton, the civil rights leader. “I feel that a woman’s statements have to be taken seriously but that he deserves a full, fair investigation,” Sharpton said. “So I’m not calling, as of yet, for his resignation. But I’m also not attacking the women.” The question for Cuomo is whether Democratic leaders are willing to wait for that investigation to play out or if other developments force a reassessment of their posture before that happens. There are also many people in New York politics who have accumulated a list of grievances toward Cuomo that span decades. Some of them may relish the chance to break from him if they sense enough weakness — as they did with one of his predecessors. “I distinctly remember with Spitzer, watching it all go down and saying at the time to myself, if he just had a few more friends who were willing to stand by him, I bet he could get past this,” Krueger said. “But it was all really rapid, and there wasn’t anybody coming forward.” This article originally appeared in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company
Pandemic fears send stocks, oil, yields lower
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK (Reuters) -A gauge of stock prices across the world fell on Tuesday and oil prices also slipped as concern lingered over rising global COVID-19 cases and their effect on the global economic rebound.
The dollar index ticked up after touching its lowest level since March 3 and Treasury yields fell, though they still held above last week’s more than one-month lows.
India reported 1,761 deaths from COVID-19 overnight, its highest daily toll, while Canada and the United States extended a land-border closure for non-essential travelers.
On Wall Street, travel stocks weighed on sentiment, with airline and cruise operators falling sharply.
Some of the recent optimism about the leisure industry has waned as the reopening might take a bit longer than initially thought, said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.
“We’re not out of the woods yet when it comes to the COVID virus and getting to where global economies are reopening,” he said. “Some of that enthusiasm has diminished.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 256.33 points, or 0.75%, to 33,821.3, the S&P 500 lost 28.32 points, or 0.68%, at 4,134.94 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 128.50 points, or 0.92%, to 13,786.27.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 1.90% and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.85%.
Emerging market stocks lost 0.07%. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.08% lower, while Japan’s Nikkei lost 1.97%.
After touching its lowest level in nearly seven weeks overnight, the dollar index rose slightly.
The currencies and interest rate markets could be relatively calm for another few weeks as the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank each take their time adjusting their rate policies, said Mazen Issa, senior currency strategist at TD Securities.
“There really isn’t a strong catalyst in either direction this month to really break us out of ranges,” Issa said.
The dollar index rose 0.166%, with the euro unchanged at $1.2033.
The Japanese yen strengthened 0.08% versus the greenback at 108.09 per dollar, while sterling was last trading at $1.3939, down 0.31% on the day.
Tufts University economist Brian Bethune said the lower yields stood in contrast with their level close to 1.8% on March 30, reflecting worries that public health gains against the virus have stalled in Brazil, Canada and other countries.
“There’s a repricing of what the international environment is going to look like,” even though the U.S. economic recovery looks strong, Bethune said.
Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes last rose 11/32 in price to yield 1.5624%, from 1.599% late on Monday.
Concern over rising COVID-19 cases in India continued to weigh on the oil market.
“Given India’s position as a major crude oil importer … new restrictions would be very bad for the energy complex,” said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho.
U.S. crude recently fell 1.21% to $62.44 per barrel and Brent was at $66.50, down 0.82% on the day.
Spot gold added 0.5% to $1,778.80 an ounce. Silver gained 0.07% to $25.83.
Bitcoin last rose 2.4% to $57,030.36.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; additional reporting by Laura Sanicola and David Henry in New York, Ross Kerber in Boston and Shivani Kumaresan and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Dan Grebler and Richard Chang)
Federal budget spending bookended by extended-care, child-care investments – TheChronicleHerald.ca
The Trudeau Liberal government delivered a federal budget Monday aimed at finishing the fight against COVID-19 and investing in a broken economy while providing much-anticipated good news for Nova Scotians young and old.
Introducing the first federal budget in more than two years, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said the pandemic has preyed on Canadian seniors “mercilessly,” ending thousands of lives and forcing all seniors into fearful isolation.
“We have failed so many of those living in long-term care facilities,” Freeland said. “To them, and to their families, let me say this: I am so sorry. We owe you so much better than this.”
The “so much better” is expected to come from a budget announcement of a $3-billion investment over five years, starting in 2022-23, to ensure that provinces and territories provide a standard of care in their long-term care facilities.
Freeland said the pandemic has shed a light on systemic issues affecting long-term care facilities across the country, a light that was focused on Nova Scotia last week when Premier Iain Rankin was bombarded with opposition questions about pandemic failures at the Northwood long-term care facility in Halifax that resulted in 53 virus deaths.
Michelle Lowe, the executive director of Nursing Homes of Nova Scotia Association, an umbrella group that represents 85 per cent of the province’s 97 nursing homes, said her association has had recent discussion about the push for national standards.
Lowe said the Nova Scotia system is not perfect but “we have a very good system when it comes to standards and outcomes that are required.”
Lowe said the concern is that when the federal government focuses on developing national standards, “it then starts to take the focus off the really critical things that require investment.”
“The immediate issue is (staff) recruitment,” Lowe said. “Standards are important but I would say the standards that many of our facilities here in Nova Scotia abide by are exceptional.”
Lowe said Nova Scotia could set standards that would meet and likely exceed national benchmarks and said a variety of government bodies, like Accreditation Canada, audit long-term-care facilities to make sure practices meet national and international standards.
Lowe said federal government funds would be better invested in paying the sometimes unattainable fees for those governing bodies to audit facilities.
“The number one issue that’s facing long-term care in this country is recruitment,” Lowe said. “For so long, the emphasis has been on recruiting acute-care staff, recruiting doctors, recruiting nurses, to come into the primary care setting and what’s fallen off the radar and what’s fallen off efforts by government is this whole area of recruiting for continuing care, not only in Nova Scotia, but across the country.”
Lowe said funding for new or renovated facilities is important “but if we don’t have the staff to support that, none of it will matter.”
“If we don’t have some significant investment in recruitment, particularly from what we are seeing here in Nova Scotia … I’m crossing my fingers and hoping this doesn’t happen, you are going to see facilities closing beds for summer vacations because they just don’t have enough staff to provide the care.”
Lowe said providing private rooms for every senior in long-term care is not realistic, based on projections that suggest 199,000 new beds would be needed over the next 15 years to support the baby boomers as they go through the system.
The federal budget also provides $90 million over three years to look at ways to support an age well at home initiative to support seniors to stay at home, in their home communities as long as possible.. The funding would provide practical support to help low-income and otherwise vulnerable seniors, including matching seniors with volunteers who can help with meal preparations, home maintenance, daily errands, yard work, and transportation.
“That’s fantastic,” Lowe said of caring for more seniors at home.
The federal government has also promised to increase old age security for Canadians 75 and older.
It means providing support where COVID has struck hardest – to women, to young people, to low-wage workers, and to small and medium-sized businesses, especially in hospitality and tourism.
At the other end of the spectrum from seniors measures is a federal commitment to invest $30 billion over the next five years in a Canada-wide child-care and early learning program. By the end of next year, the federal government aims to reduce average fees for regulated early learning and child care by 50 per cent that would bring fees for 4egulated child care down to $10 per day on average within the next five years.
Combined with previous investments announced since 2015, a minimum of $9.2 billion per year will be invested annually in child care, including Indigenous early learning and child care, starting in 2025-26.
“Long overdue,” said Alec Stratford, chairman of the steering committee for the Nova Scotia branch of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives,
“It’s been 50 years since the Commission on the Status of Women recommended a national child-care program,” Stratford said. “It is finally nice to see words come to fruition with a meaningful investment.”
Stratford said the program will work the same as health care, with the federal government providing funding with federal standards and the provinces figuring out the best way to deliver it.
Stratford said child care is particularly important at this current moment as “we look at the statistics on women in the labour force and the impact that the pandemic has had.”
Stratford said child care is one of the most effective economic policies that we can put into play with every dollar spent returning two dollars to the economy, a policy that creates equity among genders in the workplace.
“As women are able to feel safe in having their kids cared for, they re-enter the labour market, go back to school and find the education and tools that we all need.”
The federal budget comes with a 354.2-billion deficit for the fiscal year just completed and a projected $154.7-billion deficit for the 2021-22 fiscal cycle.
The federal budget plan is to create one million new jobs by year’s end, extended funding through the fall to bridge Canadians and Canadian businesses through the pandemic crisis toward recovery and support 500,000 new training and work opportunities, almost half of which will be opportunities for youth.
“These are the programs that are needed,” Stratford said. “That, with pharmacare, increased health-care spending, all of those programs and services work to lower the cost of living for Canadians, so that they can live a more quality life, which is a markedly different approach that we’ve seen in past governments where austerity is the policy decision-maker.”
British Columbia tackles innovation investment gap
The B.C. government will create its own investment fund to help promising B.C. companies scale up and keep jobs here at home, as part of its post-pandemic recovery plan.
The InBC strategic investment fund, announced in Monday’s Throne Speech, will be administered by a new Crown corporation. The initiative is designed to respond to concerns that the province’s world-leading innovations in sectors such as life sciences are consistently flowing to other jurisdictions with better investment climates.
The Throne Speech, read by Lieutenant-Governor Janet Austin, offers a self-congratulatory account of the government’s response to the health and economic challenges brought by COVID-19 over the past year, and acknowledges that the province is still in the grips of the pandemic. But it also focuses on plans to rebuild the economy.
“We open this sitting of the legislature at a turning point in our fight to end the pandemic,” she read. “The threat of new variants means we cannot relax, even as your government accelerates the largest mass-immunization program in B.C.’s history.”
Ms. Austin cited the province’s contributions to the global effort to fight COVID-19, noting that its life-sciences companies have helped develop a vaccine and a treatment for the virus, as well as the development of an ICU ventilator for use in Canadian hospitals.
“Their work will not only help bring us out of the pandemic, it will position our province for success in the years ahead,” she said.
The speech predicts the province will find continued growth in trade. “Global markets are changing in ways that offer significant opportunities for B.C.’s goods and services. Prices are expected to continue to reflect environmental, social and governance aspects of production,” it states. “British Columbia firms will be able to take advantage of a premium paid for inclusive and sustainable products.”
But leaders in health sciences and the high-tech sectors have noted that B.C., while it excels in research and development, fails to foster a business environment where those innovations can stay and grow.
Quebec and Ontario have helped secure life sciences investments by partnering with Ottawa to offer incentives. Most recently, the global pharmaceutical giant Sanofi unveiled its plans to build an influenza vaccine manufacturing facility in Toronto, after the federal government and the province of Ontario committed to invest close to half a billion dollars in the project.
The B.C. government provided no detail on the new investment fund on Monday, and it is unclear how the new agency will assist. “This new strategic fund will help promising B.C. companies scale up, anchor talent – keeping jobs and investment at home in British Columbia,” it reads.
It also promises additional funding to address the challenges that COVID-19 has exposed for the homeless, for health care and for seniors in long-term care. “In the year ahead, your government will continue to improve care for seniors by hiring thousands of new workers for long-term care and fixing the cracks COVID-19 has exposed.”
The Throne Speech also promises initiatives to assist British Columbians who struggle with the cost of living. The budget, which will be introduced on April 20, will include funds to help get thousands of rental homes built throughout the province, and will expand access to the province’s $10-a-day daycare spaces.
The government is also promising changes to its vehicle insurance rates through the Insurance Corporation of B.C. ICBC will deliver a 20-per-cent cut to car insurance rates, in addition to the COVID-19 rebate that was issued earlier this year.
Source:- The Globe and Mail
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